Lorillard Tobacco Company executed an abrupt U-turn Wednesday following last week’s threat to withhold its scheduled $28.4 million (€26.33m; £18.13m) payment to an anti-tobacco advertising campaign [WAMN: 26-Mar-03].

Complaining that the campaign by the American Legacy Foundation ‘vilified’ tobacco manufacturers, Lorillard said it would place the dollars ‘in escrow’ pending a hearing of its lawsuit against the ALF.

This alleges that the body ran anti-smoking ads that violate specific forms of wording agreed in the Master Settlement Agreement Lorillard signed with the attorneys general of forty-six states that had instituted class actions against the tobacco giant and its peers.

Lorillard, together with R J Reynolds Tobacco Company, accuses the ALF and other anti-smoking groups of using their ads to attack tobacco-makers rather than promote health education as agreed under the 1998 master settlement.

However, Lorrillard’s backdown does not imply any change of heart. It has been assured that its dollars will be returned if the judge finds in their favor.

The suit claims that the offending ads “portray tobacco company employees and executives as loathsome persons motivated by cynicism, greed and malevolence … they are portrayed as unashamedly evil”.

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