Tobacco companies probably breathed a sigh of relief when FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb abruptly resigned last month. But it appears Congress is picking up the banner of the commissioner's anti-vaping and anti-tobacco crusade - and tobacco stocks are suffering because of it.
Shares of Altria and Philip Morris slumped on the news
And the broader S&P 500 Tobacco sector declined.
The drop in American and European tobacco stocks was inspired by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who said Thursday that he wants Congress to raise the minimum age for tobacco products, including the increasingly popular 'vapes' to 21 from 18 nationwide.
The changes "will cover all tobacco products including vaping devices," McConnell said Thursday at a Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky event.
Gottlieb had previously pioneered efforts to crack down on tobacco use, prompted by the rise of teenage vaping, allegedly fueled by marketing from companies like Pax Labs, which was found to have targeted teens with marketing for its supremely popular 'Juul'.
Measures to cut nicotine in cigarettes to non-addictive levels are being drawn up and could be ready for Trump administration review by this summer.
While we're sure Gottlieb and the administration mean well, cutting nicotene levels in cigarettes would probably create an underground market for 'the good stuff' - cigarettes with 'normal' levels of nicotene - a business that is bound to be a boon for organized crime.
So smoke up Johnny while you still can.