America's second biggest cigarette maker has vowed to fight a Florida jury verdict of $23.6 billion (£13.8bn) in punitive damages in a case filed by the widow of a smoker who died of lung cancer.

RJ Reynolds Tobacco ­executive J Jeffery Raborn said the damages awarded to widow Cynthia Robinson by a Pensacola jury were "grossly excessive" and that Reynolds would appeal.

But Ms Robinson's lawyer Christopher Chestnut said the award sends a powerful message to tobacco companies that they "cannot continue to lie... about the addictiveness of and the deadly chemicals in their cigarettes".

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The case is one of ­thousands filed in Florida after the state Supreme Court in 2006 threw out a $145 billion (£85.3bn) class action verdict.

Ms Robinson individually sued Reynolds in 2008.

Her husband Michael Johnson died in 1996.