WASHINGTON (AP) -- A federal judge is prohibiting top tobacco companies from marketing cigarettes overseas as products that are "low tar" and "light."
It's part of a landmark lawsuit brought by the government.
US District Judge Gladys Kessler ruled August 17th that the nation's top cigarette makers violated racketeering laws and deceived the public for years about the health hazards of smoking.
She has ordered the companies to stop using terms such as "light" on their products.
After the decision, the companies asked Kessler to allow them to use the marketing overseas.
The judge's ruling says there's no justification for concluding that Congress intended to allow the tobacco companies "to tell the rest of the world" the cigarettes are less harmful to health.
Attorneys for the companies say banning the use of the low-tar descriptors in foreign countries would be an unwarranted intrusion upon the right of these countries to regulate cigarette sales within their own borders.
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)