The 'Truth' About Smoking Is A Lie, Lorillard Says

July 7, 2008 - 8:03 PM

( - Educating the public about the dangers of smoking is one thing; but lying and misrepresenting tobacco companies is going too far, says one tobacco company.

That company, Lorillard, is turning to the courts to stop an advertising campaign that stretches the truth, in its opinion.

Lorillard Tobacco Co., based in Greensboro, N.C., on Tuesday said it would ask a state judge to end a "truth" campaign waged by the American Legacy Foundation.

In advertisements intended to discourage young people from smoking, the foundation uses body bags to represent people who have died from smoking. One radio ad, which the foundation considers "edgy," suggests that Lorillard puts dog urine in its cigarettes. That's not true, Lorillard said.

Ironically, the American Legacy Foundation's controversial ad campaign is funded with tobacco money, as dictated by the huge settlement the tobacco companies reached with the states in 1998.

But according to Lorillard, that same settlement forbids anti-tobacco advertisements from personally attacking tobacco company employees or "vilifying" the tobacco companies themselves.

Lorillard says the American Legacy Foundation has crossed that line, prompting a furious response from the foundation.

Wire services quote American Legacy Foundation President Dr. Cheryl Healton as saying that Lorillard is creating "a smoke screen to hide the company's real goal, which is to crush the 'truth' campaign because it's working to stop kids from smoking."

Lorillard says it doesn't mind "ethical and educational advertising" about the risks of tobacco smoking. But it now wants a judge to decide where the 'truth' ends and vilification begins.