Read an updated story from today's court action.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- An attorney representing hundreds of West Virginia smokers told jurors Tuesday that tobacco companies could have made cigarettes safer but didn't.
However, Jeff Furr, the lead defense attorney representing tobacco companies, said they tried.
During closing arguments in a case to decide if tobacco companies are liable to West Virginia smokers, Furr said tobacco companies spent billions of dollars trying to make their products safer.
Plaintiffs are trying to convince jurors that tobacco companies were negligent, designed a defective product or fraudulently withheld information about their products.
The jury of five women and three men also will decide if the companies could be liable for punitive damages. Deliberations will begin at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday.
The trial began April 22 in the ceremonial courtroom of the old Kanawha County Courthouse.
Kenneth McClain, the lead plaintiffs' attorney, told jurors tobacco companies knew the dangers of smoking, but continued to advertise cigarettes in the 1950s and '60s as if they were safe.
He showed a magazine story titled "Smoke Without Fear" to jurors and said companies disputed cigarettes' link to cancer.
Smokers were fooled into thinking filters made smoking safer, according to McClain. Companies designed cigarettes to be highly addictive, he said.
"There was a time -- we have a more jaded view of companies now," McClain said. "It used to be that companies liked us and cared for us."
Furr told jurors that companies did attempt to make safer cigarettes, and customers did not accept them. For example, he said, Carlton, introduced in 1964, "came close to eliminating nicotine and tar."
"There's no such thing as a safe cigarette," Furr said.