Surgeon General warnings on cigarettes
TO: Potential Cigarette Manufacturers or Importers
FROM: Division of Advertising Practices
Federal Trade Commission
United States Government
Federal Trade Commission
Washington, D.C. 20580
Any company wishing to sell or advertise cigarettes within the United States – regardless of the volume of its sales – must submit a plan to the Federal Trade Commission ("FTC") explaining how it will comply with the health warning display requirements, and have that plan approved by the FTC This memorandum provides an overview of the governing statute, and also outlines the elements that should be included in any plan submitted to the FTC.
Section 1333 of the Cigarette Act imposes labeling and advertising requirements on cigarette manufacturers, packagers, and importers, and requires any company wishing to sell cigarettes within the United States to have a plan approved by the Federal Trade Commission explaining how it will comply with those health warning display requirements. More specifically, Section 1333(a) sets forth the precise wording and punctuation of the warnings required to appear on all packaging and advertising of cigarettes sold, distributed, or advertised in the United States. Section 1333(b)(1) provides the capitalization, placement, and size requirements for the warnings on cigarette packaging. Section 1333(b)(2) sets forth the requirements for warnings in advertisements, except for outdoor billboards, which are covered in Section 1333(b)(3).
Section 1333(c)(1) requires that the warnings rotate quarterly in both advertising and packaging in accordance with a plan submitted to and approved by the Federal Trade Commission. Section 1333(c)(2) provides an alternative to quarterly rotation of warnings on packaging for companies with sufficiently low sales volumes. This provision allows a cigarette manufacturer or importer to apply to the Federal Trade Commission for permission to display the four warnings an equal number of times on a brand style's packaging for a one-year period, if the company's annual sales of that brand style are less than one-fourth of one percent of all of the cigarettes sold in the United States in the previous calendar year and more than half of the cigarettes manufactured or imported by that company are packaged into brand styles that meet this low sales threshold. There are no exceptions, however, to the quarterly rotation requirement for advertising.
Section 1335a of the Cigarette Act requires that cigarette manufacturers and importers annually file with the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services ("DHHS") a list of the ingredients added to tobacco in the manufacture of their cigarettes. Furthermore, the Tariff Act of 1930, 19 U.S.C. § 1681a(c)(1), as amended by the Tariff Suspension and Trade Act of 2000, Pub. L. No. 106-476, 114 Stat. 2179, prohibits the importation of cigarettes unless at the time of entry the importer presents a sworn statement signed by the original cigarette manufacturer stating that the manufacturer has submitted and will continue to submit the list of ingredients to DHHS.