A Minnesota Court of Appeals has ruled that a lawsuit against Philip Morris over its alleged deceptive and false advertising of Marlboro Lights can proceed as a class action lawsuit. The ruling will allow anyone who bought Marlboro Lights in Minnesota from 1972 through November 2004 to be included in the class action lawsuit, and receive refunds of money they spent on the cigarettes through the class action settlement.
The Marlboro Lights class action lawsuit alleges Philip Morris used deceptive trade practices and false advertising when it marketed its cigarettes as “light.”
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently prohibited cigarette makers form marketing their products as “light,” “mild,” “medium,” or “low-tar” because many smokers wrongfully think these cigarettes are less harmful than “full-flavor” cigarettes. Studies show that nearly 90 percent of smokers and nonsmokers believe that cigarettes described as “light” or that have certain colors on the packages are less harmful, even though they’re just as dangerous. Philip Morris changed its Marlboro Light brand to Marlboro Gold this year to comply with the new FDA rule.
A 2008 U.S. Supreme Court ruling cleared the way for class action lawsuits against cigarette companies that manufacture “light” cigarettes to go forward in state courts. Since then, numerous lawsuits seeking class certification have been filed around the country with varied results.
In addition to Minnesota, class action lawsuits over light cigarettes have been certified in Massachusetts, Missouri and New Hampshire. Judges in eight other states have rejected attempts to certify similar class action lawsuits. As of October 25, 2010, there were 29 pending cases against Philip Morris regarding the use of the work “light” or “ultra-light.”
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