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FDA Unveils Graphic Cigarette Warning Labels

Tobacco companies blocked them once and are expected to try again
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 16, 2019 10:20 AM CDT
This image provided by the FDA shows proposed cigarette warning labels.   (FDA via AP)

(Newser) – If the Food and Drug Administration gets its way, cigarette labels in the US are about to get pretty graphic. The agency has unveiled 13 proposed warning labels that would be prominently featured on cigarette packs and in cigarette advertising if approved, reports CNBC. The labels go beyond warning of lung cancer—the images tick off ailments including bladder cancer, impotence, and cataracts. One shows two feet with amputated toes and the warning that "smoking reduces blood flow to the limbs." The FDA will take public comments for 60 days before making a final decision in the spring. This could result in the first change to cigarette packaging warnings since 1984, reports the AP.

"While the public generally understands that cigarette smoking is dangerous, there are significant gaps in their understanding of all of the diseases and conditions associated with smoking," says the FDA's Mitch Zeller. If the agency gives final approval to the labels, tobacco companies are expected to try to block them in the courts—as they successfully did earlier this decade. "We firmly support public awareness of the harms of smoking cigarettes, but the manner in which those messages are delivered to the public cannot run afoul of the First Amendment protections that apply to all speakers, including cigarette manufacturers," says a statement from Reynolds American. (Read more warning labels stories.)

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