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Class action lawsuit filed against maker of Natural American Spirit cigarettes

[JURIST] The company that manufactures American Spirit [corporate website] cigarettes is the subject of a new class action lawsuit [complaint, PDF]. The lawsuit, filed by a Florida law firm Wednesday against Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company and its parent company Reynolds American, Inc. [corporate websites], claims that the company's marketing strategies mislead consumers into thinking that their products are healthier to smoke than other tobacco products. Specifically, the lawsuit points to a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) [official website] warning [text] that states that the use of the words "natural" and "additive free" in the company's advertising violates federal laws. The company is already subject to a 2000 Federal Trade Commission (FTC) [official website] consent order, which states that the company must include in its advertising a disclosure that states, "No additives in our tobacco does NOT mean a safer cigarette."

Cigarettes continue to be a serious health and legal issue around the world. In June a judge for the Quebec Superior Court awarded over $15 billion [JURIST report] in damages to Quebec smokers in a case against tobacco companies JTI-Macdonald, Imperial Tobacco, and Rothmans, Benson & Hedges, making this the largest award for damages and the biggest class action lawsuit in Canada's history. In May of last year the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit upheld the dismissal [JURIST report] of a consolidated lawsuit brought against various tobacco companies. In August 2014 the World Health Organization called for strict regulation [JURIST report] of electronic cigarettes, including a ban on the usage of the devices in public places and advertising targeting minors. In June 2014 the Supreme Administrative Court of Thailand approved a new regulation [JURIST report] requiring packs of cigarettes in the country to be 85 percent covered with graphic health warnings.

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