The United States Supreme Court has ruled that lawsuits are permitted against tobacco companies who allegedly use deceptive tactics to advertise "light" brand cigarettes.
By a narrow 5-4 vote Monday, the justices said smokers may use state consumer protection laws to sue companies for the way they promote "low tar" or "light" cigarettes.
The case stems from a class action lawsuit from three residents in the northeastern state of Maine who alleged manufacturers hid information that "light" cigarettes are as dangerous as regular ones.
Tobacco companies argued that a federal cigarette-labeling law does not allow states to regulate any aspect of cigarette advertising involving smoking and health.
The high court decision Monday is a blow to Altria Group's Philip Morris unit and other tobacco companies, who face scores of similar lawsuits across the country.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.