RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Shares of tobacco companies that serve the U.S. market fell Tuesday after the Food and Drug Administration said it is conducting an independent review of research on the public health impact of menthol cigarettes.
Menthol cigarettes are one of the few growth areas in the cigarette industry.
The federal agency said Monday that members of its Center for Tobacco Products will gather menthol studies and submit its review of them to an external panel next month with a report due by fall.
In March, a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel said removing menthol cigarettes from the market would benefit public health because the minty flavoring can attract new smokers and make quitting more difficult. The Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee stopped short of recommending a ban and said the FDA should consider other factors, including whether a ban could increase counterfeiting and smuggling of cigarettes.
But Monday’s news hit tobacco companies hard.
Shares of Lorillard Inc., which makes the nation’s top-selling menthol cigarette, Newport, fell $1.30 to $109.89. Newport has roughly 35 percent of the U.S.market.
Altria Group Inc. shares fell 66 cents, or 2.5 percent, to $26.11 by mid-afternoon. Reynolds American Inc. shares fell 11 cents to $37.11.