A California court dismissed a class-action lawsuit against

R.J. Reynolds

(RJR)

and other cigarette makers over minors who were exposed to their marketing and advertising practices during the last decade.

San Diego Superior Corut Judge Robert Prager ruled that the marketing and advertising amounted to free speech entitled to First Amendment protection on grounds that it isn't "deceptive nor related to an unlawful activity." He cited a Supreme Court decision, Lorillard Tobacco v. Reilly, as precedent.

Prager said, "States cannot seek to impose regulations on tobacco advertising and promotion in an effort to protect youth from exposure to such advertising, as Congress has already done so in banning all electronic advertising and investing the FTC with the authority to impose additional regulations."

The suit was brought by Devin Daniels on behalf of all California residents under the age of 18 who smoked one or more cigarettes between April 1994 and December 1999 after being exposed to their ad campaign. "This is a common-sense decision recognizing that our advertising is lawful and protected by the First Amendment. Reynolds Tobacco does not want kids to smoke, and we advertise our brands only to adult smokers," the company said in a press release.

The shares were recently trading up 25 cents, or 0.5%, to $52.14 on the

New York Stock Exchange.