Marlboro cigarettes, a product of Philip Morris International
Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | fake images
Tobacco stocks fell Monday on a report that the Biden administration is considering whether to limit nicotine levels in cigarettes.
The report, which cited people familiar with the matter, was published in the Wall Street Journal. The newspaper said the discussion came as public officials are approaching a deadline to say whether they plan to seek a ban on menthol cigarettes or not.
The Biden administration is trying to determine whether it should lower nicotine levels in conjunction with a ban on menthol or as a separate policy, the people told the Journal.
Nicotine does not cause cancer, but it does make smoking more addictive. The goal of reducing nicotine levels would be to make cigarettes less addictive, in hopes of convincing smokers to quit smoking or to switch to other products that are considered safer.
The Food and Drug Administration, which has regulatory oversight for tobacco, declined to comment on the report.
“Any action the FDA takes must be based on science and evidence and must consider the real-world consequences of such actions, including the growth of an illicit market and the impact on hundreds of thousands of jobs, from the farm to local stores across the country, “Altria spokesman George Parman told CNBC in an email.
Altria shares closed more than 6% in the report. In extended trading Monday, the stock fell an additional 2%.
Shares in British American Tobacco closed down 2% on Monday, while shares in Philip Morris International ended the day down more than 1%. Both stocks also fell after the market closed.
Philip Morris International declined to comment on this matter. The tobacco company does not sell or market cigarettes in the US But its shares fell on the news anyway.
British American Tobacco did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The company owns Reynolds American, the manufacturer of Camel cigarettes.
Read the full story from the Wall Street Journal here.