Lorillard Files Lawsuit Over ALF Anti-Smoking Campaign

20 February 2002

Following up its warning last month [WAMN: 23-Jan-02], Lorillard Tobacco has announced it will take the American Legacy Foundation to court for “vilifying” tobacco firms in its Truth campaign.

The plaintiff claims the ads break the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement between tobacco firms and 46 state attorneys general, which forbids vilification of the product’s manufacturers or personal attacks on their executives.

However, this is exactly what the Truth campaign has done, the lawsuit alleges. Claims Lorillard: “Many [of the ads] have included personal attacks on companies and individuals.” Particularly galling for the firm was a radio ad in which one of its employees was phoned and asked if he would like to use dog urine to supply the urea for cigarettes.

Lorillard also claims the campaign prompted numerous “vitriolic, hateful and vulgar” emails, breaking cyber-stalking law in North Carolina (where the suit has been filed).

The tobacco firm insisted it was not seeking damages, merely judicial confirmation that the ads violated the regulations and a set of guidelines for future campaigns.

Founded under the 1998 settlement, the ALF spends $116 million a year (funded by tobacco firms) on the anti-smoking ads, created by Arnold Worldwide Partners in Boston and Miami’s Crispin Porter & Bogusky.

The lawsuit was dismissed as “meritless” by ALF president/ceo Cheryl Healton, who argued that Lorillard’s opposition to the ads stemmed from their effectiveness. “We will vigorously defend this lawsuit and pursue our efforts to assure that the Truth campaign remains hard-hitting and effective,” she declared.

Data sourced from: AdAge.com; additional content by WARC staff