Judge Weighs Whether Stores Must Post Tobacco Apology

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - A federal judge will soon decide whether your next tank of gas or bottle of soda comes with a free apology from the Marlboro man and Joe Camel.

A recent ruling ordering an advertising blitz stating that the nation's largest tobacco companies lied about the dangers of smoking left open the possibility that retailers could be required to place large displays on their countertops.

Retailers are concerned the signs would take away some of their most valuable selling space and would possibly imply their own guilt by association. Stores also could lose millions they receive under merchandising agreements with cigarette makers.

But public health organizations say the tobacco companies have long used retail displays to perpetuate deceptive marketing messages and that retailers are an important place for the corrective statements.