An anti-smoking group known for its edgy ads featuring teenagers has won a legal victory over No. 3 cigarette maker Lorillard Tobacco Co.
The Delaware Supreme Court ruled Monday that the ads created by the Washington-based American Legacy Foundation did not violate a 1998 agreement between the tobacco industry and the states.
That agreement led to restrictions on tobacco marketing and the creation of the foundation, which the tobacco companies fund through their payments to the states.
The agreement stated that the foundation could not vilify or personally attack tobacco companies or executives, something Lorillard argued the foundation has been doing in its ads.
Monday’s ruling upheld a lower court decision that found the ads did not violate the agreement.
“I’m just delighted that this five-year unfounded action against us has come to an end and that we have a license to save lives,” said Cheryl Healton, president and chief executive officer of the foundation.
Lorillard, based in Greensboro, N.C., declined to comment Monday. The company previously highlighted several Legacy ads it thought went too far.
In one radio ad, a person identifying himself as a dog walker phones Lorillard and tells the operator he wants to sell the company dog urine because it is full of urea, “one of the chemicals you guys put into cigarettes.”
In another ad, teens show up at Philip Morris offices in New York, though the company isn’t identified in the ad, and announce that they have a delivery for the marketing department. The delivery is a lie detector, and the teens tell the company officials they want to clear up conflicting statements that have been made about the addictive nature of nicotine.