Appeals Court Allows |Suit Over Light Cigarettes

     ST. PAUL (CN) – The Minnesota Appeals Court allowed smokers of so-called “light” cigarettes to pursue their claims against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. for touting its Camel and Winston Lights as having lower tar and nicotine than regular cigarettes.

     Smokers claimed that light cigarettes are as bad for their health as regular cigarettes. The appeals court ruled that the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act does not pre-empt the smokers’ state-law claims for intentional fraud and misrepresentation because they “are not predicated on a duty based on smoking and health, but on a rather broader, more general duty not to fraudulently misrepresent or deceive.”
     The judges also concluded that the class action is not pre-empted by the Federal Trade Commission’s oversight of tar and nicotine claims in cigarette advertising, because the FTC never issued a formal rule specifying which advertising practices violate the Federal Trade Commission Act.
     The appellate ruling reversed the lower court’s dismissal of the case. See ruling.

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