Tobacco Sales

“The ability to attract new smokers and develop them into a young adult franchise is key to brand development.” 
- 1999 Philip Morris report

Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) – 1998 

This landmark case changed the face of tobacco control. Forty six states sued the large tobacco companies, which chose to settle. As part of the settlement, tobacco companies were instructed to pay states $206 billion to cover states’ costs of treating tobacco-related health problems. 

The agreement also created new restrictions on tobacco companies including:
  • Directly or indirectly targeting youth in any advertising or promotion
  • No outdoor or transit advertising (including billboards)
  • Brand names can no longer be used on merchandise

RICO Case – 2006

The U.S. government filed a lawsuit against major tobacco companies charging them under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Chapter of the United States Criminal Code. Major tobacco companies were accused of lying for decades about the health risks of smoking, as well as marketing to children. 

The courts ruled in favor of the U.S. government and ordered:
  • Prohibitions on false, misleading or deceptive statements about tobacco and its health risks
  • Ban terms including, “low tar,” “light,” “mild,” and “natural” 
  • Require companies to include statements on the dangers of their products on packaging
  • Report marketing data annually to the government

Other laws affecting tobacco sales 

Colorado currently ranks 37th for cost of state taxes per pack of 20 cigarettes. Colorado's tax is currently 84 cents per pack, compared to a national average of $1.60 per pack. 

Laws related to the sale of tobacco and other nicotine products to minors range from federal statutes to municipal ordinances. 

The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act 

The Tobacco Control Act became law on June 22, 2009. It gives the FDA authority to regulate the manufacture, distribution, and marketing of tobacco products to protect public health. It does this by:
  • Restricting the sale of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products to minors. 
  • Restricting tobacco advertising and marketing to youth. 
  • Requiring bigger, more graphic warning labels for tobacco products.
  • Giving the FDA authority over many areas of the tobacco industry. 
  • Other regulation includes requiring the tobacco industry to disclose information on all health-related research and on all information about tobacco products' ingredients.
A variety of Colorado state laws also limit tobacco sales to help protect youth. These laws: 
  • Make it a criminal offense to sell tobacco products to minors punishable by fines; minors who purchase these products are also subject to fines, tobacco education, and/or community service. 
  • Require a photo ID at purchase. 
  • Expand the definition of tobacco products to include e-cigarettes and other new and emerging tobacco products. 
Colorado's Tobacco-Free Schools Law prohibits the use of tobacco products on all school property to create safe and healthy school environments. This includes all public nursery schools, day care centers, child care facilities, head start programs, kindergarten, elementary, or secondary schools through grade. The board of education of each school district adopts and enforces policies and rules to comply with the law. 

Some Colorado communities have gone a step further to protect youth. Communities including Fountain, Golden, Manitou Springs, Pueblo, Rocky Ford and Steamboat Springs have passed local laws requiring a license for retailers selling non-cigarette tobacco products.