Lawyers for smokers of light cigarettes have asked a federal judge to grant class action status to a lawsuit against major tobacco companies, allowing tens of millions of people nationwide to seek as much as $200 billion in damages.

In the lawsuit, filed in 2004, the smokers accused Altria Group Inc.’s Philip Morris USA Inc., R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., which is now part of Reynolds American Inc., based in Winston-Salem, N.C., and other defendants of deceiving them for more than 30 years by claiming low-tar cigarettes were less harmful than regular cigarettes. The manufacturers, they allege, knew the health risks were about the same.