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Company Sued For Maketing 'Light' Smokes As Healthier

Jan 27, 2003 | AP

A class-action lawsuit has been filed against Philip Morris Co., maker of Marlboro Lights and Cambridge Lights cigarettes, in which the plaintiffs accuse the company of wrongly leading customers to believe the "light" brands are less harmful than regular cigarettes.

Unlike many other high-profile cigarette-related lawsuits, the members of the class aren't claiming that smoking made them sick; their argument is that they were tricked by the company.

Last week, the case became the first consumer fraud class-action lawsuit involving light cigarettes to go to trial, both sides in the case said.

The plaintiffs' lawyers argue that Philip Morris should pay billions of dollars because it tried to persuade customers that cigarettes branded "light" contain lower doses of tar and nicotine.

An Oregon jury in March awarded $150 million to survivors of a woman who died of lung cancer in a similar, individual case that claimed Philip Morris falsely represented low-tar cigarettes as healthier.

In his opening statement Tuesday, Illinois plaintiffs' lawyer Stephen Tillery said the corporation has known for years that "light" or "low-tar" cigarettes emit the same amount of toxins as regular brands, and sometimes more. But a lawyer for the New York-based food and tobacco giant said the cigarette-maker never said smoking "light" cigarettes is less harmful than smoking regular ones.

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