Green Light Given for 'Light' Cigarette Lawsuits

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Supreme Court Rules Advertising for Light Cigarettes Deceptive

In a close decision handed down Monday morning, the Supreme Court has ruled that smokers may use state consumer protection laws to sue cigarette makers over the way in which so called 'light cigarettes' and 'low tar cigarettes' have been promoted.

Currently, there is a class action suit against Altria Group Inc, and its subsidiary, Philip Morris USA Inc, brought by 3 residents of Maine under the state's law against unfair marketing practices. The tobacco companies had argued that lawsuits are barred by federal cigarette labeling law, and a federal district court threw the suit out. However, the case was appealed and the Supreme Court ruling now allows the class action to proceed. The suit represents all smokers of Marlboro Lights or Cambridge Lights cigarettes, both made by Philip Morris.

The Supreme Court ruling stipulates that anyone considering launching a lawsuit against a cigarette manufacturer must prove that the use of 'light' and 'lowered tar' do in fact violate the state anti-fraud laws.

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