Aug. 23 2005
Washington, DC — America’s kids won an important victory against the tobacco industry Monday when a Delaware judge ruled that the American Legacy Foundation’s highly effective youth smoking prevention advertising campaign, called truth®, does not violate the 1998 state tobacco settlement, as the Lorillard Tobacco Company had claimed in a lawsuit. Vice Chancellor Stephen Lamb of the Delaware Chancery Court rightly found no merit to Lorillard’s claim that the truth® ads “vilify” the tobacco companies or their employees. Lorillard should accept this decision and not appeal it. Lorillard and the other tobacco companies should cease all efforts to undermine the truth® campaign and other proven measures to reduce tobacco use, such as state tobacco prevention campaigns, tobacco tax increases and smoke-free workplace laws. The tobacco companies should also drop their so-called “youth anti-smoking” ads, which have been found at best to be ineffective and at worse to undermine the real, proven-effective smoking prevention ads run by the American Legacy Foundation and states around the country. If the tobacco companies fail to take these steps, they will again expose their hypocrisy when they claim they do not want kids to smoke.
The real reason Lorillard challenged the American Legacy Foundation’s truth® ads is because these ads keep kids from smoking by telling them the truth about how the tobacco industry has targeted them and deceived them about the harm caused by tobacco use. The foundation’s efforts stand in marked contrast to the industry’s “youth anti-smoking” ads, which offer no reason not to smoke and portray smoking as an acceptable adult habit, thereby making it appealing to kids striving to appear more adult. The evidence is clear that the truth® campaign is working to reduce youth smoking. A study published in the March 2005 issue of The American Journal of Public Health found that declines in youth smoking accelerated after the launch of the truth® campaign in 2000 and that there was a significant dose-response relationship between exposure to the truth® ads and declines in youth smoking between 2000 and 2002, the period of the study.
Tobacco use remains the nation’s leading preventable cause of death, killing more than 400,000 people and costing the nation more than $89 billion in health care costs each year. Tobacco prevention advertising campaigns, including truth® and similar state campaigns, are vital elements of the overall effort to reduce tobacco use and its terrible toll. These campaigns must be adequately funded and remain free of tobacco industry influence and interference.