Smokers Can Sue Tobacco Companies for Fraud over "Light Cigarettes"

1976 True cigarette adThe U.S. Supreme Court has given a green light to smokers to sue tobacco companies over the fraudulent marketing of "light," "ultralight" and "low tar" cigarettes. Cigarette companies are currently facing around 40 such lawsuits. For decades, advertising lulled smokers into believing that so-called "light" and "low tar" cigarettes were better for their health. Smokers in Maine, however, sued Philip Morris, charging that the company was aware for decades that smokers compensate for lower levels of tar and nicotine by taking longer and deeper puffs. Philip Morris argued that the Federal Trade Commission's endorsement of machine testing for tar and nicotine levels in cigarettes, started in the 1960s, should relieve them of fraud charges. The FTC recently abandoned its testing method, though, after concluding that it's flawed because machines don't take into account how smokers adjust their smoking behavior when using cigarettes with lower levels of nicotine.