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WASHINGTON -- Class-action lawsuits seeking billions of dollars from tobacco companies have been filed in 11 states contending cigarette makers use terms like "light" to mislead smokers into believing those brands are safer.
The same argument helped survivors of a 53-year-old Oregon woman who died from lung cancer win a jury award of $150 million from Philip Morris Cos.
The class-action lawsuits name the nation's three largest tobacco companies -- Philip Morris, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Brown & Williamson Corp. -- and allege violations of consumer protection laws.
Tobacco companies say the lawsuits have no merit. R.J. Reynolds spokesman Seth Moskowitz said cigarette manufacturers use terms like "full-flavor," "lights" and "ultra lights" to differentiate strength of taste and amount of tar and nicotine.
"These terms do not, and are not meant to, imply that any cigarette brand style or any category of cigarettes is safer than any other," told Reuters.