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    Lorillard Threatens Suit Over Ads

    American Legacy Foundation accused of producing "false and unethical" commercials against the tobacco company.


    CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The maker of an irreverent radio advertising campaign aimed at reducing youth smoking is condemning North Carolina-based Lorillard Tobacco Co. for putting it on notice that it plans to file a lawsuit to force it to change the ads.

    In radio spots produced by the American Legacy Foundation, a person identifying himself as a dog walker phones Lorillard and tells the operator that he wants to sell the company "quality dog urine" because it is "full of urea," one of the "chemicals you guys put into cigarettes."

    Lorillard claims it doesn't add urea to cigarettes, saying it is a substance found naturally in tobacco leaves. A Lorillard attorney notified the American Legacy Foundation by letter that the company plans to take the issue to court, charging the group's anti-smoking ad campaign violates provisions of the $206 billion legal settlement between cigarette makers and 46 states.

    As part of the 1998 settlement, American Legacy was created to organize a national effort to educate the public about the dangers of smoking. The agreement prohibits the foundation from "any personal attack on, or vilification of," any person, company or government agency, wrote Lorillard general counsel, Ronald S. Milstein.

    Lorillard spokesman Steve Watson told the Associated Press the Greensboro-based company, a subsidiary of New York's Loews Corp., has not determined when or where it will file suit.

    Watson said the ads are "false, misleading and unethical. It goes beyond the bounds of ethical and educational advertising and they need to be stopped."

    The two sides tried but failed to work out a settlement, Watson added.

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