A federal judge on Friday cleared the way for millions of U.S. smokers to join a lawsuit that claims tobacco companies covered up knowledge that nicotine is addictive and manipulated the drug in cigarettes to hook smokers.
U.S. District Judge Okla Jones II certified the lawsuit as a class action, ruling that anyone who has ever had a doctor tell them to quit smoking can share if damages are awarded.
Up to 50 million people would be eligible to join the suit, which currently has four plaintiffs.
The tobacco companies want lawsuits against them tried separately. But plaintiffs’ lawyers argue that very few people can afford to sue on their own.