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Jury weighs 'light' cigarette suit verdict

Oct. 18, 2011 at 1:44 PM   |   Comments

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ST. LOUIS, Oct. 18 (UPI) -- A jury Tuesday deliberated whether Missouri smokers deserve $700 million from tobacco giant Philip Morris for allegedly deceiving them about cigarette safety.

A class-action lawsuit accuses the tobacco company of deceiving smokers in the state into believing its Marlboro Light cigarettes were safer than regular cigarettes when they weren't, the St. Louis Post Dispatch reported.

The jury began its deliberations after final arguments Monday.

"This case is about the best-selling cigarette in Missouri that didn't deliver on its promise," plaintiffs attorney Stephen Swedlow said in closing arguments.

A "reasonable consumer" would expect that it was important to buy the Marlboro Light cigarettes based on their label's promise of lower tar and nicotine, he said.

But the cigarettes were made with the same tobacco as regular cigarettes, he said.

"Everyone in Missouri who buys a product deserves not to be lied to," he said.

Philip Morris took the label of "lower tar and nicotine" off packages in 2003 and stopped using the term "lights" in 2010.

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