- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 18, 2017

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - More than 21,000 Marlboro Lights smokers and their attorneys will receive a portion of $29.1 million from a lawsuit settlement fund.

A Pulaski County Circuit judge approved the payment Tuesday from the $45 million settlement fund, which was set up to end a 13-year-old lawsuit alleging that Philip Morris USA and parent company Altria Group misled smokers in Arkansas by advertising Marlboro Lights and Ultra-Lights were safer than regular cigarettes, The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (https://bit.ly/2iIDrgI ) reported.

The companies denied any wrongdoing, citing that the lights filters were specially ventilated to reduce tar and nicotine, but smokers could get more by inhaling more deeply or more often.

Anyone in the state who bought the Lights brands between November 1971 and June 2010 were entitled to a share of the money regardless of whether they ever resided in Arkansas. People did not need to provide receipts to stake a claim of part of the settlement money, but they did have to submit a sworn statement estimating their annual purchasing habits.

The 38-year period covered the time the cigarette brands were introduced until regulators bared cigarettes from being advertised as light.

Lead Little Rock attorney Tom Thrash has said the lawsuit helped bring the nationwide downfall of the lights class of cigarettes.

About $18.1 million will go to more than 13,000 applicants. About 20 percent, or more than 5,000 applicants, were disqualified from the settlement by the judge. The judge also approved a payment of $10 million to the lawyers who have been working on the case since 2003.

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, https://www.arkansasonline.com


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