WASHINGTON DC: The US Supreme Court has dealt a blow to tobacco giant Philip Morris after it ruled a class-action lawsuit against the company should not be decided in federal court.

The cigarette maker is being sued by two Arkansas women who claim it fraudulently marketed its Cambridge Lights and Marlboro Lights brands as having less tar and nicotine.

They accuse the company of designing the cigarettes to register lower levels of tar and nicotine in government-approved testing than would be delivered to the consuming public.

The Supreme Court justices unanimously reversed a ruling that allowed Philip Morris to transfer the lawsuit to federal court from the Arkansas state court where it was filed initially.

Companies facing class-action lawsuits prefer to have them heard in federal courts, where they usually get a better outcome. In a statement Philip Morris said the latest ruling "does not negatively affect the ultimate outcome of the case or that of other 'lights' cases".

Data sourced from New York Times; additional content by WARC staff