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FDA Begins Anti-Smoking Push To Cut Nicotine In Cigarettes

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal health officials took the first step Thursday to drastically cut nicotine levels in cigarettes so they aren’t addictive.

The Food and Drug Administration estimated that its sweeping anti-smoking plan, first announced last summer, could push the U.S. smoking rate to 1.4 percent. Now about 15 percent of U.S. adults smoke.

FDA regulators estimate about 5 million more people would quit cigarettes within one year of new nicotine limits. Currently there are no limits. Under law, the FDA can regulate nicotine although it cannot remove it completely.

“Our estimates underscore the tremendous opportunity to save so many lives if we come together and forge a new path forward to combat the overwhelming disease and death caused by cigarettes,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement.

Nicotine is highly addictive, but it is not deadly by itself. It’s the burning tobacco and other substances inhaled through smoking that cause cancer, heart disease and bronchitis. Smoking causes more than 480,000 deaths in the U.S. each year, even though smoking rates have been declining for decades.

The agency published its formal notice online Thursday to begin regulating nicotine in what’s expected to be a multi-year process littered with potential obstacles. The FDA is seeking outside comment on a number of issues, including what nicotine levels should be permitted and whether the change should be implemented gradually or all at once.

The FDA gained authority to regulate ingredients in cigarettes and other tobacco products in 2009. But FDA’s regulatory efforts have been hampered for years by legal challenges by Big Tobacco companies.

Cigarette makers generally have vowed to take part in the FDA’s regulatory process for nicotine levels, often emphasizing the long, complicated nature of implementing new regulations.

The FDA has sponsored several recent studies showing that when smokers switch to very low nicotine cigarettes they smoke less and are more likely to try quitting. This research was pivotal to establishing that smokers won’t compensate by smoking more cigarettes or inhaling more deeply if nicotine levels are low enough. One study limited nicotine to less than 1 milligram per gram of tobacco.

(Photo Credit: ThinkStock Images)

Culture

Fall Date Night Ideas

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Beautiful leaves are falling and the air is beginning to chill, making Fall the perfect season to plan date nights in with your Honey. Between work and family, so much time is dedicated to things that are not centered around our spouse. Here are some ideas that will keep you cozy and connected to the one you love.

An Intimate Picnic for Two

There is always something romantic about a picnic, and having one indoors allows you both to get comfortable.  Soft pillows, candles, and music, along with some of  your favorite foods, creates the perfect setting for an intimate dinner in.

Netflix and Chill

Go back to the basics…skip reserving tickets at a crowded theater and share the couch with your favorite person. Binge watch a series or enjoy something ‘chilling’ that will keep you two in each others arms.

Get Cooking in the Kitchen

Start your evening on the kitchen counter.  Find an exotic recipe or create a dish of your own; either way, preparing a meal together is a great way to add some spice to your night.

Cocktails and Conversation

Sip on something sweet while conversing with your sweetheart.  Take time to “wine” down after a long week and talk about all the things that are good with you and that special someone.

Engage In Friendly Competition

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Doing something fun together can be a healthy way to release some stress and tension in your relationship. Play games that you both enjoy and keep the experience positive and supportive. Remember, either win or lose, you both are on the same team.

Share a Dance

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Pull out your playlist and pull your love close to you.  Dance to the songs that have become yours, and reminisce of when your love was new.

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Entertainment

Love & Basketball: Superstar Candace Parker Agrees To Pay Husband Shelden Williams In Their Divorce

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Love and Basketball ...

Former Duke men’s basketball star Shelden Williams will reportedly receive a $400,000 alimony check from his wife, WNBA superstar Candace Parker.

TMZ Sports reported Tuesday that Parker would make a one-time alimony payment to Williams, the No. 5 pick in the 2006 NBA draft. Williams played six seasons in the NBA and earned more than $12 million. But Parker – who has been doing studio work for TNT during NBA and NCAA tournament games – is one of the biggest stars in WNBA history. She is a two-time league MVP.

According to a study of WNBA salaries done by Summit Hoops, Parker made $115,000 last season from the Los Angeles Sparks, but published reports have placed Parker well over $1 million annually by playing overseas. That doesn’t include her TV salary and endorsement deals.

Williams played in the NBA from 2006-12 for Atlanta, Boston, Denver, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Sacramento and Toronto. He had career averages of 4.5 points and 4.3 rebounds.

According to the TMZ report, Parker will not pay any more money to Williams, whom she married in 2008. The two have an 8-year-old daughter and they have agreed on joint legal and physical custody. The couple will also profit from the sale of their former home in Encino, Calif., which recently sold for $3.75 million.

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Life Style

What Makes Your Car Costs So High?

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Car owners with poor credit can pay hundreds — if not thousands — more to drive than those with good credit. This plays out in two important ways: higher rates on car loans and, in most states, higher insurance premiums. In fact, having bad credit can raise your insurance quote even higher than if you’d had an accident.

To see how much poor credit can cost car owners, personal finance website NerdWallet looked at auto loan terms and insurance quotes for drivers in different credit tiers.

CREDIT AND CAR LOANS

Drivers with blemished credit often choose a cheaper car than they could otherwise afford. However, they’ll still pay more to own it — especially if they finance the purchase. Good credit is generally considered 690 to 719, while bad credit is below 630. In a slightly different system, prime credit is 661 to 780 and subprime credit is 501 to 600.

For used car loans in the last quarter of 2017, prime credit buyers received an average rate of 5.48 percent, according to credit reporting agency Experian. The average rate was much higher, 16.27 percent, for subprime borrowers.

Say a buyer purchases a used car with a loan of $21,000 — just under the average amount financed on used car purchases, according to Edmunds. Using the average rates above, here’s about how much each borrower would pay on a 48-month loan:

__ Prime: $488 per month and $2,433 in total interest

__ Subprime: $598 per month and $7,706 in total interest

In this example, the cost of poor credit is $110 per month, and $5,273 over the life of the 48-month loan.

THE TRAP OF TAKING A LONGER LOAN

To get a lower monthly payment, buyers increasingly accept loans with longer terms — about 42 percent take out loans for six years or more, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

While there’s merit in making sure bills fit your budget, this dramatically increases the cost of a car.

With the loan extended to 72 months, the total cost of poor credit becomes $8,335, or $116 per month over six years.

A DIFFERENT SCORE FOR INSURANCE

The credit scores lenders use to determine loan terms are not the same score auto insurers use to set your premium.

A credit-based insurance score is used to predict your likelihood of filing a claim in the next few years, says Lamont Boyd, insurance industry director of scores and analytics at FICO. Insurers can use this and other scoring models to help set rates in all states except California, Hawaii and Massachusetts, where the practice is banned.

NerdWallet looked at quotes in the rest of the country for drivers with clean records and either “good” or “poor” credit, as reported to the insurer. We averaged rates from 10 ZIP codes in each state and then ranked the difference in price by state.

We also compared quotes for drivers with good credit and one accident versus similar drivers with poor credit and no accidents, and found poor-credit quotes were often higher. In all but two states, drivers can find quotes at least $500 cheaper per year for good credit and one accident compared with poor credit and no accidents.

INSURANCE COSTS VARY WIDELY

In Michigan, home to some of the highest car insurance rates in the country, we found that someone with poor credit can pay an average of $464 more per month than someone with good credit and the same driving record. The next-highest average price increase was $185 per month in Kentucky. As in many states, in both Michigan and Kentucky average rates for poor credit more than doubled.

On the opposite end of this spectrum is North Carolina, where good drivers with poor credit pay, on average, $20 more per month for insurance than those with good credit. Iowa was the next cheapest for motorists with poor credit, at an average increased cost of $37 per month.

AVOID PAYING UP

To get the best rate possible, before heading to a dealership, check your credit scores and get preapproved for an auto loan. You can still get financed on the spot, but “now you have this pretty strong negotiating chip to help you get an even better rate from the dealer,” says Delvin Davis, senior research analyst at the Center for Responsible Lending.

And even with splotchy credit, you could still save by shopping around for car insurance quotes. In New York, for example, we found a $1,219 (per year) difference between the lowest and second-lowest quotes for poor credit — and a $5,689 difference between the highest and lowest.

You can also improve both your credit and credit-based insurance score by:

__ Paying all your bills on time

__ Keeping credit card balances below 30 percent of the limit

This article was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet. Lacie Glover is a writer at NerdWallet.

Lacie Glover, NerdWallet

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