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Altria shares plunge after FDA releases road map to curb tobacco-related deaths

The Food and Drug Administration on Friday announced a plan for tobacco and nicotine regulation, which seeks to lower nicotine in cigarettes to non-addictive levels.

This would be just the first step in a sweeping review of the tobacco industry's regulations by the agency, with the goal of encouraging the development of new products that are less dangerous than cigarettes. The FDA has also said it will consider the role of menthol and other flavors in tobacco products.

The statement by the FDA largely came as a surprise and will likely face much resistance from tobacco companies, which are already facing a declining consumer base for their products.

Shares of Altria Group, maker of Marlboro and Parliament brands through its Philip Morris USA unit, plunged more than 10 percent after the FDA's announcement. British American Tobacco, which owns brands such as Camel, Lucky Strike and Newport, fell nearly 9 percent. Vector Group, which sells Liggett Select, Eve and other cigarette brands, saw its stock decline more than 4 percent.

Shares of Philip Morris International, which sells Marlboro and other brands outside the U.S., also dropped nearly 3 percent on the news. Imperial Brands, formerly known as Imperial Tobacco Group, fell 6 percent.

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb called the amount of death and disease attributable to tobacco "overwhelming." Cigarettes are "the only legal consumer product that, when used as intended, will kill half of all long-term users," he said in a statement.

"Envisioning a world where cigarettes would no longer create or sustain addiction, and where adults who still need or want...


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