Lorillard Prepares For Another Fight

Published January 5, 2011

A Newport ad from the 1970s appeared to target young, black smokers.

A Newport ad from the 1970s appeared to target young, black smokers.

The Lorillard tobacco company — bruised by its losses from a major civil case in Boston — is ready for its next battle.

The FDA is considering a ban on menthol, the minty ingredient in Newport and other cigarettes. The Wall Street Journal reports menthol cigarettes account for 90 percent of the company sales.

Lorillard is trying to own the message before anyone else can, having purchased the domain names MentholKillsMinorities.com, MentholAddictsYouth.com and FDAMustBanMenthol.com.

From the WSJ:

Keeping those names out of the hands of critics is just one part of Lorillard’s multimedia campaign to thwart a possible ban. The fight’s next round is scheduled for next week, when a special FDA tobacco advisory committee is scheduled to meet to review data regarding menthol products. In March, the panel will recommend whether to extinguish menthol cigarettes altogether—including Lorillard’s top-selling Newport brand.

The plaintiffs in the case of Marie Evans, who died of lung cancer in 2002, argued Lorillard targeted young, black children in Roxbury with free cigaretts and advertising.

In that case, Lorrilard was ordered to pay a total of $152 million, thought to be the largest-ever award from a tobacco company in a wrongful death suit.