U.S. Supreme Court: Good v. Altria Group,.

October 5, 2008 - The first Monday in October by law is the opening of the U.S. Supreme Court's new term. In the first lawsuit to be considered filed by three Mainers accuses Altria Group Inc. of deceptive and unfair advertising regarding their "light" cigarettes. The suit claimed the tobacco company's marketing practices violated Maine's Unfair Trade Practices Law. A federal judge initially issued a summary judgment in the cigarette makers' favor, ruling that the claims were pre-empted by the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act, which says states can't impose any requirements on the advertising or promotion of cigarettes. The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston later found that the claims are not pre-empted by federal law.

The question before the Supreme Court is whether state-law challenges to advertising claims about tar and nicotine yields are pre-empted by federal law.

The plaintiffs contend, Altria - formerly known as the Philip Morris Companies - misled smokers into thinking that light cigarettes, with less tar and nicotine, were less hazardous to health. If the Supreme Court rules in favor of the three smokers, who enjoy the support of the U.S. government and Federal Trade Commission, the result could be a tsunami of lawsuits that could cost the tobacco industry billions of dollars.

Reference: 2 Maine cases go to US Supreme Court, Boston.com, 10/5/2008; More Detail: Good v. Altria Group.