Published: Thu, November 15, 2018
Markets | By Otis Pena

Menthol Cigarettes Come Under FDA Scrutiny

Menthol Cigarettes Come Under FDA Scrutiny

British American Tobacco (BAT) shares suffered the most, diving by almost 10 per cent in early trading, while Imperial Brands saw shares fall four per cent.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will issue a ban on the sale of fruit and candy flavoured electronic cigarettes at convenience stores to tackle the recent surge in teenage use of e-cigarettes, according to an agency official.

E-cigarette products in mint, menthol and tobacco flavours will still be sold in retail outlets in the United States for now, because U.S. officials did not want to create a situation where cigarettes were more attractive to smokers who prefer a mint or menthol flavour. When (as seems likely) the FDA bans the sale of menthol cigarettes, the menthol pods also will go.

The potential ban steps up the FDA's campaign against youth smoking.

The FDA says research shows menthol-flavored cigarettes may be harder to quit than their regular counterparts, in part because the additives reduce the harshness and irritation of smoking.

Scott Gottlieb plans to announce this week that the Agency intends to prohibit not only electronic, but also the menthol cigarettes, to curb the "epidemic" level of use among adolescents.

BATS owns Newport, the largest menthol cigarette maker in North America, which contributes as much as 25% of the group's annual profit.

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A ban on menthol or other tobacco products is unlikely to occur before 2022, and the tobacco industry would likely slow down the enaction of any ban through litigation, Miller said.

In limiting the sales of flavors to vape shops that sell products more popular among adults, the FDA is acknowledging the role the devices might play in helping older smokers switch to a potentially less harmful product.

BAT shares have dropped 40 percent this year, the biggest drop in at least two decades.

The major tobacco companies did not comment on the Times' story.

Imperial Brands Plc declined as much as 5 percent.

The FDA has been targeting flavored tobacco products as studies indicate that teens who smoke menthol cigarettes consumed close to twice as many weekly compared with non-menthol users.

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