Some lawsuits can proceed over cigarettes touted as natural

(AP) — A U.S. judge in New Mexico has dismissed more than two dozen complaints against the maker of American Spirit cigarettes but is allowing others to move forward over a line of tobacco touted as natural.

Scores of plaintiffs from at least a dozen states sued Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Co. and its parent company, Reynolds American Inc., after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found in 2015 that consumers were misled about risks associated with the products.

In a ruling last week, U.S. District Judge James Browning cited various state laws as he weeded out some complaints that were consolidated in his court, The Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper reported .

Among those were lawsuits filed in California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio and Washington state.

Some of the claims he rejected alleged that the company labeled cigarettes as “additive free” and “natural” to try to suggest its products were less processed than other cigarettes. The company still faces legal battles over marketing efforts.

Related Content: Smokers are 7 times more likely to use marijuana daily, study says

Browning approved sending three lawsuits to a federal court in North Carolina, where operations for Reynolds American Inc. are based. He also ruled that the First Amendment does not shield the company from liability.

In 2002, Reynolds acquired Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Co., which was founded in New Mexico more than three decades ago, for $340 million. Santa Fe Natural Tobacco has declined to comment on the litigation.

In an agreement with the FDA, the company stopped labeling products as additive-free and restricted the use of the term “natural.” Santa Fe Natural Tobacco had consistently used those terms along with a logo featuring a pipe-smoking American Indian in a feathered headdress.

It maintained offices in Santa Fe after its acquisition by Reynolds, which reportedly began offering buyouts to employees in advance of its sale this year to British American Tobacco.

WTNH NEWS8 provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Also, you can now block any inappropriate user by simple selecting the drop down menu on the right of any comment and selection "Block User" from there.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s