“Light” has already been banned in some countries as an adjective to describe low-tar tobacco. Now a US judge has ruled tobacco companies abuse of the term could make them liable for very heavy damages. The judge has given class action status to a lawsuit filed by “light” cigarette smokers against companies they claim tricked them into believing they were safer than regular-strength snout.
Lawyers say they are acting for 50,000,000 smokers taken in by big tobacco’s claims, and want 200 billion dollars in damages, equivalent to the profits made from “light” tobacco since its introduction in 1971. It is the largest class action case in US legal history, but two companies, Phillip Morris and R.J. Reynolds, have already said they will appeal against the decision. Few plaintiffs have won significant damages since 1999 and the start of actions against tobacco companies.