Anti-smoking signs hit stores after years-long legal battle

New anti-smoking signage is going up in stores all across the country, and because of a lengthy court battle, the messaging is literally decades in the making.

The signs, which say things like, "It's not easy to quit" and "Secondhand smoke kills over 38,000 Americans each year," are actually the last remnants of the federal government's long-running civil racketeering lawsuit against the country's big cigarette companies. 

The lawsuit was filed in 1999, went to trial in 2004, and now after years of appeals, about 200,000 stores will have to post the signage by the end of the month.

"Quitting smoking is the single most important thing that you can do to improve your health," said Liz Furgurson of the D.C. Tobacco Free Coalition, who added that 11.5 percent of Americans still smoke. "Anything that we can do to continue to protect consumers and citizens, even if it's with just these warning signs at point of sale, it's a step in the right direction."

People who spoke to FOX 5 outside a Northwest D.C. 7-Eleven Thursday were split on whether the signs will actually work.

"I think it's good because smoking do kill a lot of people I know," Taye Holmes said.


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"The information on them is probably stuff that the general public already knows," countered Tanner Sandor.

As far as enforcement goes, government officials said independent auditors will periodically evaluate compliance. They also said a tip line will be established so members of the public can report incidents when they don't think a sign is posted properly or at all.

For support in quitting, including free quit coaching, a free quit plan, free educational materials, and referrals to local resources, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW