Punitive damages given in Lorillard smoking case

BOSTON (Reuters) - The third largest U.S. cigarette maker was ordered on Thursday to pay $81 million in punitive damages to the estate of a woman who died after a decades of smoking Newport cigarettes.

The award came in addition to $71 million in compensatory damages awarded to Marie Evans’ estate and to her son William on Tuesday.

A jury found Lorillard Inc had enticed the woman and other black children to smoke by handing out free cigarettes outside their low-income housing project in Boston in the early 1960s.

Evans vs Lorillard was the first case to claim the cigarette maker targeted minorities, including young children, with samples of Newport menthol-flavored cigarettes.

Evans died from lung cancer in 2002, at age 54. Weeks before her death Evans recorded videotaped testimony about the company’s cigarette giveaways, which she said enticed her to start smoking at age 13.

The Greensboro, North Carolina, company has said it plans to appeal.

Reporting by Ros Krasny; Editing by Jerry Norton