It's the Law

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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

"It’s the Law" was an early Tobacco Institute program in which the Institute distributed to retailers blue signs with white and orange lettering that read: "It’s the Law: We Do Not Sell Tobacco Products to Persons Under 18." The Tobacco Institute promoted "It's the Law" heavily, spending millions on an elaborate public relations campaign to make the public and lawmakers aware of its existence. In addition to signs, the program also included:

  • Support for legislation requiring supervision of tobacco vending machines.
  • Voluntary restrictions on tobacco billboard placement and free sampling of

tobacco products.

A 1996 article published in the American Journal of Public Health found that the Institute's "It's the Law” programs were not associated with a significant reduction in illegal sales either with vending machines or over-the-counter sources (DiFranza, Savageau & Aisquith, 1996). Tobacco control activists long suspected that the actual purpose of the program was to improve the low public image of the tobacco industry, while legitimizing certain industry lobbying efforts. With the forced release of internal industry documents, this suspicion has been confirmed (Hanners, 1998).

[The above information was excerpted from a publication by Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights]