Lorillard Tobacco can proceed with a lawsuit against the body responsible for overseeing the US anti-tobacco Truth campaign after a judge threw out a counter-suit.

Lorillard decided to take the American Legacy Foundation to court nearly a year ago, claiming its ads – created by Arnold Worldwide in Boston and Crispin Porter & Bogusky in Miami – breached the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement between the big tobacco firms and attorneys general of 46 states [WAMN: 20-Feb-02].

That pact established the ALF to lead anti-smoking efforts, but bars it from “vilifying” tobacco companies. This, however, is exactly what Lorillard claims the Truth campaign has done – not least in a radio ad featuring one of the firm’s employees being phoned and asked whether he would like to purchase dog urine as a source for the urea for cigarettes.

Lorillard’s legal manoeuvres prompted a counter-action from the ALF, which argued it could not be sued as it did not participate in the 1998 agreement. But these claims have been rejected in a Delaware court by Judge Stephen P Lamb, clearing the way for the tobacco firm’s lawsuit.

Lorillard immediately made for the moral high ground. “It’s not about money,” insisted vice-president Ronald Milstein. “It's about making them adhere to agreement they reached. That is all we need to do. We are 100% in support of their efforts.”

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