Tobacco Shares Lower on FDA's Proposed Ban on Menthol Cigarettes
Tobacco shares edge down on FDA's plan to ban menthol in cigarettes, and flavors in cigars.

Shares of major tobacco producers took a hit Thursday, Nov. 15, on news the Food and Drug Administration was planning a ban on flavored cigars and menthol in cigars and cigarettes, and to prevent minors from buying flavored e-cigarettes. 

Philip Morris International Inc. (PM) , Altria Group Inc.  (MO) , British American Tobacco PLC  (BTI)  , Pyxus International Inc. (PYX) , and Universal Corp (UVV)  all edged down slightly.

The FDA formally announced the plans -- which are intended to curb smoking among kids and teens -- Thursday in a letter by commissioner Scott Gottlieb. 

"Today, we advance our efforts to combat youth access and appeal with a policy framework that firmly and directly addresses the core of the epidemic - flavors," wrote Gottlieb.

"The data make unmistakably clear that, if we're to break the cycle of addiction to nicotine, preventing youth initiation on nicotine is a paramount imperative," said Gottlieb, adding that it's the FDA's "solemn mandate to make nicotine products less accessible and less appealing to children."

Nearly nine in 10 smokers started before they were 18 years old, said Gottlieb, adding that only 1 in a 100 started after age 25.  

The effort to stop kids and teens from smoking is part of the FDA's Youth Tobacco Prevention Plan. The FDA also is trying to stop flavored e-cigarettes from being sold to minors, online and in stores.

Menthol cigarettes are wildly popular among young smokers -- 54% of youth smokers use them, according to the FDA.

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