Lorillard Tobacco Co. Sues Foundation Over ‘Truth’ Anti-Smoking Ad Campaign
As expected, Lorillard Tobacco Co. filed a lawsuit yesterday against the American Legacy Foundation, claiming that the foundation's anti-smoking ads violate the 1998 national tobacco settlement by "vilifying" tobacco companies, Bloomberg News/Los Angeles Times reports. Lorillard, the country's fourth largest tobacco company, claims that the foundation's "Truth" ads violated the settlement "by executing a campaign of offensive statements" (Bloomberg News/Los Angeles Times, 2/20). The $206 billion settlement, which established the foundation to educate consumers about the dangers of smoking, prohibits "any personal attack on, or vilification of," individuals, companies or government agencies (Wall Street Journal, 2/20). In January, Lorillard notified the foundation that it would be filing suit and asked for a change in the tone of the foundation's "Truth" ad campaign, a series of radio, television and print ads. The tobacco company took issue with a radio ad in which an individual who identifies himself as a dog walker calls Lorillard's offices and offers to provide the company with "quality dog urine," which contains urea, one of the "chemicals you guys put into cigarettes" (California Healthline, 1/23). For its part, the foundation says it is "simply providing information about smoking in a way that teenagers will notice" (Wall Street Journal, 2/20). Steve Watson, a Lorillard spokesperson, said, "We strongly believe you can be edgy and their ads can be different, but you cannot and should not mislead the public with false attacks." The foundation filed suit in Delaware last week in an effort to head off legal action by Lorillard, claiming the foundation "is not subject to the terms of the ... settlement because it didn't sign it." Watson said, "I cannot comprehend how they can rationalize that they are not a party to the document that created them in the first place and is responsible for nearly 100% of their funding" (AP/Richmond Times-Dispatch, 2/20).