The American Legacy Foundation (ALF) last week received a decision from the Delaware Supreme Court upholding the position that its youth tobacco prevention campaign, Truth, does not vilify or personally attack the tobacco companies or their employees.
The appeal was brought against the ALF by Lorillard Tobacco Company, after the Delaware Chancery Court found in favor of the foundation in August 2005.
The court's decision marks the end of litigation that threatened to shut down the ALF and end what it says is the only effective national youth-smoking prevention campaign to date. The courts found that the controversial ads abide by the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement that was made between attorneys general from 46 states, five US territories, and the tobacco industry.
Why does it matter?
"Very early on in the litigation, Lorillard had gone after several of our press releases. They abandoned that and they did not make any further claims [regarding our PR]," says Ellen Vargyas, the ALF's general counsel, "but these definitions apply to all of the foundation's activities that are conducted with the major source of funds. So it really does sustain the kinds of approaches that we have taken across the board."
The decision was a major triumph for the foundation and another black mark against Big Tobacco. The ALF says it shows that truth in advertising and PR are the most effective means of making a point, as well as creating a successful campaign in the eyes of the law.
1 The Truth campaign was started by the ALF in February 2000, a year after the foundation was established. Truth has a target demographic of teens 12-17 and uses ads like 'Shredder', 'Hypnosis', 'Lie Detector,' and 'Dog Walker' to reach them.
2 According to the American Journal of Public Health findings in March 2005, 22% of overall decline of youth smoking in the first two years of the campaign can be attributed to Truth, translating to 300,000 fewer youth smokers in 2002.
3 Statistics show that almost 80% of people try their first cigarette before the age of 18, and that one-third to one-half of those go on to become regular smokers. Death due to tobacco-related disease kills more than 400,000 Americans each year, making it the number-one preventable cause of death.
4 More than 24% of men smoke, while nearly one in five American women do so. Tobacco-related disease kills 178,000 women every year.
5 According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 70% of smokers in the year 2000 tried to quit for at least one day. Only 5% of those attempts were successful.