How Do You Violate an Agreement You Never Signed?


As Nick notes, Tennessee Attorney General Paul Summers recently sent country music performer Gretchen Wilson a letter suggesting that her habit of whipping out a can of Skoal smokeless tobacco while performing her song "Skoal Ring" could be a violation of the 1998 agreement that settled state lawsuits against the leading tobacco companies. Among other things, the agreement forbids marketing tobacco products to minors. But Wilson was not a party to that agreement, so nothing in it is binding on her. Although U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company, which manufactures Skoal, did sign the agreement, it never paid Wilson to promote its product, as Summers acknowledges. Hence using a Skoal tin as a prop did not violate anything but Summers' sensibilities.