A Business article yesterday erred in reporting that a court had ruled that Brown and Williamson Tobacco Corp. had engaged in deceptive advertising by claiming that king-size Barclay's cigarettes were "99 percent tar free." In fact, the court allowed use of the claim while ruling that a separate claim that a Barclay has only one milligram of tar was deceptive. (Published 1/13/88)
Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp., a member of the Tobacco Institute Inc. since it was formed 30 years ago, confirmed yesterday that it withdrew from the Washington-based industry lobbying and public relations association on Dec. 31. American Tobacco Co., which withdrew in the mid-1960s, rejoined at the same time, the institute said.
A Brown & Williamson spokesman in Louisville said the basic reason for the pullout "had to do with dissatisfaction with intercompany areas," and was "in no way a criticism of the management or the operation of the institute."
An industry source attributed the withdrawal to a dispute mainly with industry leader Philip Morris Inc. that produced "wounds that never healed."
The dispute dates back to December 1981, when a Federal Trade Commission cigarette smoke-testing machine rated the tar content of a king-size Barclay, a Brown & Williamson brand of cigarette, at 1 milligram.
Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. complained to the FTC that the Barclay's unique filter deceived the machine because it had design frailties that allowed delivery of much more tar to the smoker.
A subsequent FTC study led the agency to conclude the tar content should be rated at between 3 and 7 milligrams.
But Brown & Williamson set off a court battle with the FTC by continuing to advertise that Barclays were "99 percent tar free."
In October 1983, U.S. District Judge Gerhard A. Gesell ruled the claim to be deceptive advertising and permanently enjoined the company from claiming any tar content other than that approved by the FTC. Philip Morris sued Brown & Williamson in other countries where it made the 1 percent tar claim.
Retired American Tobacco chairman Robert K. Heimann testified in a court case in December 1986 that it's "a fair statement" his company quit the Tobacco Institute because it wasn't aggressive enough in promoting the claim that smoking hasn't been shown to cause disease.
A company spokesman had no immediate comment on the firm's reasons for rejoining the association.