Tobacco giant Imperial Brands has welcomed US measures to curb teenager access to vaping products, but said further research is needed around plans for an outright ban on menthol cigarettes.
The company said the proposed crackdown by the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) on menthol cigarettes and flavoured cigars needs to be “supported by the relevant science and other evidence”.
It added that such proposals are “likely to require a multi-year process, in which we will be fully engaged”.
The FDA last Thursday announced new restrictions on flavoured tobacco products and electronic cigarettes in order tackle a rise in teenagers using e-cigarettes, which could act as a gateway to traditional cigarettes.
A week later it announced it was also seeking a nationwide ban on menthol cigarettes.
Shares in Imperial Brands and rival British American Tobacco (BAT) had come under pressure earlier this week on reports over the menthol cigarette plans.
Analysts at Barclays estimated US sales of menthol cigarettes account for around 25% of BAT’s annual underlying earnings and around 11% of Imperial Brands’s earnings.
But it is thought the menthol ban could take up to two years to come into force, with a year for the rules to be finalised and another year for the ban to be enforced in the marketplace.
Meanwhile, Imperial Brands said that it recognised the FDA’s concern on age verification at retail stores for its electronic products. Age verification technology is already in use on the company’s e-cigarette retail website, blu.com.
The company is also developing a connected version of its myblu vaping device with locking technology – and Imperial Brands said it is encouraged by FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb’s recent comment on a process to accelerate development and review of vapour products with child protection features.