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Altria Goes to Court over Marlboros

Published on April 23rd, 2013 00:00

Altria Group Inc Faces Class Action over Marlboro Lights Adverts

Altria Group, the owner of Philip Morris USA, is set to face a class-action litigation in a court in California. The maker of Marlboro Lights cigarettes is facing accusations that adult cigarette smokers had been deceived into believing that “lights” are less unhealthy than other cigarettes, manufactured by the same company.

Marlboro Lights

The trial is set to start at a court in San Diego, where the prominent tobacco company will try to defend its stance. The case has been filed on behalf of users of Marlboro Lights (now selling as Marlboro Gold) who smoked these cigarettes starting from June 1993 to April 2001. The litigation has initially been brought to court in 1997, when Philip Morris USA and other cigarette makers were accused of making deceptive declarations related to the addictiveness and health dangers associated with smoking.

Not as light as some thought

The tobacco firm, based in Richmond, VA, is the sole defendant remaining in the pending litigation. The single allegation that is pending is that PM USA has made misleading declarations over its ‘lights’ cigarettes. The trial will be presided by Judge Ronald S. Prager of the California Superior Court. In compliance with the court documents, the plaintiffs had stated that Philip Morris had advertised and labeled its cigarettes falsely as ” light” and “low tar” to create untrue impression that the given cigarettes were not hazardous as the ones labeled as ‘full flavor cigarettes’.

The litigation continues

In 2004, the California court has decided that the litigation that the plaintiffs had brought forth could not be continued as a group one or a class action as several of the plaintiffs did not meet the demanded qualification of them personally having been affected a financial loss or health complication. In 2009, the California Supreme Court ruled that even despite the plaintiffs in the litigation had not been qualified, the litigation can be accredited as a class action. Alternatively, the plaintiffs must be allowed to modify the case to find new representatives for the class action or redefine the plaintiffs group.

Philip Morris USA is the largest tobacco company in the United States, selling the nation’s leading Marlboro cigarettes, as well as other brands, including L&M, Parliament, Virginia Slims and other tobacco products.