State Supreme Court Agrees To Review Class-Action Tobacco Case Filed on Behalf of Minors
The California Supreme Court on Wednesday announced that it would review a class-action lawsuit filed by young smokers against tobacco companies alleging that the companies violated state consumer-protection laws by directing cigarette advertisements at minors, the Sacramento Bee reports.
The suit, which was previously rejected by lower courts, was filed in December 2000 by San Diego residents who began smoking as teenagers. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the nearly 1.5 million California teens who smoked between April 1994 and December 1999.
The suit states that in-store tobacco promotions, placed in areas such as near candy shelves, attract children and encourage minors to smoke. The suit is seeking $682 million, the estimated profits from sales made on the teen-targeted ads (California Healthline, 9/16/02).
The lawsuit asks that tobacco companies Philip Morris, R.J. Reynolds, Brown & Williamson and Lorillard pay for smoking-cessation programs for California residents who smoked at least one cigarette during that time period and were younger than age 18 at the time.
Lower courts rejected the case based on a 2001 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a case from Massachusetts that found the state's laws against advertising cigarettes to children were pre-empted by the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act.
Attorney General Bill Lockyer (D) supports the plaintiffs in the case, according to the Bee (Cooper, Sacramento Bee, 2/17).