Updated from 10 a.m. EDT
A federal court judge has granted class-action status to a lawsuit that could include millions of smokers of light cigarettes who are preparing a massive legal push against the tobacco industry.
U.S. District Court Judge Jack Weinstein delivered the ruling in Brooklyn, N.Y. The lawsuit alleges that
Philip Morris unit,
R.J. Reynolds Tobacco division and other companies deceived smokers by marketing certain cigarettes as light.
The class covers smokers who bought light cigarettes after they went on the market in the early 1970s. Reports have said the smokers might seek to recover as much as $200 billion.
Shares of tobacco companies tumbled Monday. Altria was down 4.4% to $78.72, Reynolds American was losing 3.6% to $59.80, and
British American Tobacco
was falling 1.3% to $55.83.
, the tracking stock of Lorillard, was down 1.7% to $54.92.