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US Tobacco Companies Fume as Ads Lawsuit Fails

News, 23 February 2006


The US Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by two tobacco companies that claim California's tough anti-smoking ads have smeared their reputations.

R J Reynolds Tobacco and Lorillard Tobacco argued that the tone of the state's campaign, known as Proposition 99 and supported by a 25% tax on every pack of cigarettes sold, violated their rights.

They objected to the state using the revenue from taxes on cigarettes, effectively forcing the industry to vilify itself.

The ads included a scene where cigarettes rained down on schoolchildren as a voice, purportedly of a tobacco executive, announced: "We have to sell cigarettes to your kids. We need half a million new smokers a year just to stay in business."

The lawsuit was initially thrown out by a US District Court judge and the decision was later upheld by a federal appeals court which ruled that the annual $25 million (€21m; £14.3m) campaign did not violate the companies' free-speech rights.

The Supreme Court denied the appeal without any comment.

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