NPR logo

Judge, Citing Reservations, Backs Anti-Tobacco Ads

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/4812481/4812605" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Judge, Citing Reservations, Backs Anti-Tobacco Ads

Law

Judge, Citing Reservations, Backs Anti-Tobacco Ads

Judge, Citing Reservations, Backs Anti-Tobacco Ads

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/4812481/4812605" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

A Delaware judge has ruled that an edgy set of anti-smoking ads aimed at young people does not cross the line of vilifying tobacco companies or their employees. But in a couple of instances, the judge said, the ads cut it close. A Lorillard Tobacco Co. official said the company would appeal the ruling.

One of the TV ads, "Product Recall," features an actor playing a fictional tobacco industry executive. truth hide caption

toggle caption truth

The anti-smoking ads were financed by cigarette makers as part of a historic 1998 legal settlement with 46 states. The campaign, called "the truth," is sponsored by the American Legacy Foundation.

One radio ad takes its theme from an industry statement that tobacco naturally contains urea — an ingredient also found in dog urine. A professional dog walker calls Lorillard and offers to sell dog urine to the company. "I was just hoping to make a little extra spending cash under the table," he says.

Hear Truth's 'Dog Walker' Radio Ad

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/4812481/4812482" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

It prompted Lorillard to sue to stop the ads, saying they vilified the tobacco industry in violation of the settlement agreement.

The judge in the case disagreed. Vice Chancellor Stephen Lamb of Delaware's Court of Chancery said none of the messages vilified the industry. He did say that, by naming Lorillard specifically, the dog walker ad might have violated the agreement's bar against personal attacks. But he said Lorillard didn't make that specific argument, so he couldn't rule on that point.

We no longer support commenting on NPR.org stories, but you can find us every day on Facebook, Twitter, email, and many other platforms. Learn more or contact us.