Lorillard CEO Responds to New York Times Editorial

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Lorillard CEO Responds to New York Times Editorial

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- To combat what it perceived as unfair practices, Lorillard Tobacco Co. publicly released an unpublished letter it sent to The New York Times, which was in response to a recent editorial "Smooth and Dangerous," published Aug. 14, 2008.

Lorillard contends the newspaper rejected the letter without a sufficient explanation "reinforcing its unwillingness to present opposing viewpoints to its readers" on the subject of manufacturing and marketing menthol tobacco products.

In part, the editorial stated, "The [scientific] evidence [for the harmful effects of menthol] so far is not conclusive … (scientific studies) have found no significant difference in the risk of disease for smokers who use mentholated cigarettes and those who don’t."

Martin L. Orlowsky, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Lorillard Inc., penned the letter written on Aug. 19, and claimed the paper cannot come out against menthol products if it states the above scientific claims.

"It comes as no surprise that your paper advocates the regulation of the tobacco industry by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, repeating unsupported allegations about menthol to justify such FDA oversight is simply irresponsible and undermines the integrity of the editorial process," Orlowsky wrote in the letter.

"Your attack on menthol is nothing more than an opportunity to gain your ultimate end, the prohibition of all tobacco products and the establishment of a tobacco free society,” he stated. “That is the reason you are using the menthol issue to inflame passions along racial divides, and are making accusatory statements without foundation. Whether to impose prohibition on cigarettes is a debate that we welcome, but it is a debate that needs to be waged on facts and science."