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FDA again proposes graphic cigarette warning labels

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The federal Food and Drug Administration wants to add graphic labels to cigarette packages and advertising to warn of the dangers of smoking, swapping out the written warnings that have been used for years.

More than 100 countries have adopted the graphic warnings, but the U.S. has used only a written warning for more than three decades.

“We know that graphic warning labels are effective,” said Erika Sward of the American Lung Association, which is applauding the move.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that despite years of campaigns against smoking, cigarettes still kill about 480,000 Americans each year.

“The warning labels that are currently on cigarette packs are ineffective and, as the FDA put it, invisible,” Sward said.

Congress ordered the FDA to add the graphic warnings a decade ago, but the tobacco industry fought back in court and won, saying the warnings violated companies’ First Amendment rights.

“It won’t be a surprise if they sue again,” Sward said.

But this time, the FDA says it has the science to make it stick.

It also has the backing of Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio.

“The tobacco industry cannot be allowed to hide behind lawsuits any longer,” he said in a statement.

But Reynolds, one of the five tobacco companies that sued 10 years ago, released a statement saying that “the messages delivered to the public cannot run afoul of the First Amendment.”

Mike Hogan, who lobbies on behalf of small vaping and e-cigarette companies, says the graphic warning labels will not be placed on e-cigarettes at this point.

“Half a million people are dying a year unnecessarily,” Hogan said. “We need e-cigarettes to be there as a way to reduce harm in smokers.”

E-cigarettes and vapes are largely unregulated and there is little research on their health effects.

The public comment period for the graphic warning images will open in October. They could be on labels and in ads by 2021.

**Correction: A previous version of this article referred to the American Lung Association spokeswoman as Erika Swan. Her last name is actually Sward. We regret the error, which has been corrected.


Colder and quiet rest of the week

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – A good 20° swing Wednesday morning with temperatures in the lower to mid 20s this morning with feel-like temperatures in the teens. it will be a clear start then brighter heading through the rest of the morning and the afternoon! Sunshine won’t help us out too much in terms of temperatures today. Daytime highs should warm to the upper 30s. Wednesday night will be a cold one with lows in the lower 20s with a partly cloudy sky.

Thursday will be another cold one with highs struggling to reach 30°. It’ll still be a bright one with a mostly to partly sunny sky. A slow warming trend will start Friday with highs warming to the upper 30s with a mixture of sun and clouds.

This weekend will be split with a chance of showers arriving late in the day Sunday. Highs will continue to warm to the mid-40s Saturday with a partly sunny sky. Clouds return Sunday with showers later in the evening and overnight. Rain will continue through Monday. Tuesday looks to be a dry day for now then showers should return by midweek with highs in the mid 40s.