Updated from 7:01 a.m. EST
Tobacco stocks took a hit Tuesday, as the industry became the target of another legal attack, this time over alleged price fixing dating back to the 1980s.
Attorneys for two cigarette wholesalers in Buffalo, N.Y., and Bryan, Texas, are seeking class-action status for a suit they filed in a federal court in Washington D.C., accusing cigarette manufacturers of meeting secretly to make illegal agreements on wholesale pricing.
The suit could mean that tobacco makers might have to face further monetary damages after several successful state and federal lawsuits by sick smokers ended up costing them hundreds of billions of dollars.
That threat burnt most tobacco-related shares Tuesday.
, the world's largest cigarette maker, saw its shares hit fresh five-year lows, dropping 1 1/16, or about 5.2%, to 19 1/2.
R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Holdings
also fell 3/8, or 2.01%, to18 1/4.
Shares of Brooke Group
, parent company of
fell 11/16, or 4.2% to 15 7/8.
The lawsuit would open up another front in the legal assault on Big Tobacco, which has been battling litigation stemming from the health threats of smoking and accusations that the tobacco companies have tried to cover up those dangers.
The price-fixing suit names Philip Morris; R.J. Reynolds;
Brown & Williamson Tobacco
, a unit of
British American Tobacco
, a unit of
; and Liggett Group.