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Health Groups Weigh In On Lawsuit Over Graphic Cigarette Labels RICHMOND, Va. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Lorillard Tobacco Co., sued the Food and Drug Administration last month to block the labels, saying they violate free speech laws, unfairly urge adults to shun their legal products and will cost millions to produce. Tobacco companies are increasingly relying on their packaging to build brand loyalty and grab consumers. It's one of few advertising levers left to pull since the government has curbed their presence in magazines, billboards and TV. But the health groups wrote: "It is difficult to imagine any product for which the government has a stronger interest in ensuring effective warnings to consumers. . Tobacco products are unique among consumer goods: They kill up to one-half of the people who use them as they are intended to be used." The groups include the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, the American Legacy Foundation, the American Lung Association, the American Medical Association, the American Public Health Association, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, and Public Citizen. "In addition to failing to inform consumers about the risks of tobacco use, the current warnings fail to change consumers' decisionmaking or behavior," they added. In opposition to the lawsuit, the FDA similarly said that the public interest in conveying the dangers of smoking outweighs the companies' free speech rights. The new warnings, each of which includes a number for a stop-smoking hotline, must constitute 20 percent of cigarette advertising, and marketers are to rotate use of the images. One label depicts a corpse with its chest sewn up and the words "Smoking can kill you." Another shows a healthy pair of lungs beside a yellow and black pair with a warning that smoking causes fatal lung disease. Altria Group Inc., parent company of the nation's largest cigarette maker, Marlboro maker Philip Morris USA, is not a part of the lawsuit. The tobacco industry's legal challenge could delay the new warning labels for years. That is likely to save cigarette makers millions of dollars in lost sales and increased packaging costs..