Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Tobacco Companies' Complaint

Vilifying ads don't violate rights

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to hear an appeal by two tobacco companies that claimed California's tough anti-smoking ads smeared their reputations, said the Associated Press.

The ads included a scene where cigarettes rained down on children playing in a schoolyard as a voice, purportedly of a tobacco executive, announced, We have to sell cigarettes to your kids. We need half a million new smokers a year just to stay in business.... It's nothing personal. You understand.

Reynolds American Inc., Winston-Salem, [image-nocss] N.C., and Lorillard Tobacco Co., Greensboro, N.C., had asked the justices to overturn a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision that rejected the companies' claims that their First Amendment rights were violated by California's ad campaign.

California uses part of an 87-cent tax on every package of cigarettes to fund health education that includes a campaign to discourage smoking.

The companies objected to the state using revenue from taxes on cigarettes, effectively forcing the tobacco industry to pay to vilify itself.

The case is Reynolds v. Shewry, 05-867.