Menthol cigarettes ban: BTA and Imperial shares plunge amid crackdown

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British American Tobacco (BAT) shares suffered the most, diving by almost 10 per cent in early trading, while Imperial Brands saw shares fall four per cent.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is prepared to ban the sale of menthol cigarettes, a report from The Wall Street Journal has suggested.

Although the number of Americans who use tobacco products has been gradually decreasing across the country, the FDA has found that menthol cigarette sales have increased from 2011 to 2015.

It could take a year or more for a rule banning menthol to be finalized, and then another year for it to be enforceable in the marketplace.

Tobacco stocks are getting slammed on Monday following a report the Food and Drug Administration is going after menthol cigarettes, which the investment firm Jefferies says represents 34% of the total United States cigarette market.

Scott Gottlieb plans to announce this week that the Agency intends to prohibit not only electronic, but also the menthol cigarettes, to curb the "epidemic" level of use among adolescents.

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"Menthol will make you inhale more". The proposal would also be delayed if large tobacco companies fight the FDA's authority to do restrict it.

BAT shares have dropped 40 percent this year, the biggest drop in at least two decades.

A study published last week in the academic journal Tobacco Control found that 6 percent of 15- to 17-year-olds used the popular e-cigarette brand JUUL within the last 30 days, and 11 percent had used an e-cigarette in general.

Menthol cigarettes account for around 35 percent of total industry volume in the U.S., Herzog said. The proportion is about 20 percent for Altria Group Inc., which sells Marlboro in that market, according to the firm.

Last week, shares in British American Tobacco and Imperial Brands rose on reports of a potential ban on flavoured pods as such a move would be devastating for fast-growing rival Juul, thereby weakening one of their major competitors.

Newport is BAT's largest menthol brand and accounts for about 40 percent of US sales, according to Duncan Fox, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence. They have had only two annual declines in the past 19 years.

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