British American Tobacco’s (BAT) share price plunged 11% to R555 on Monday morning, wiping R176bn off its market capitalisation, on a report the US government is considering banning menthol cigarettes. The Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) plans to pursue a ban, citing senior agency officials. Menthol cigarettes account for about a quarter of BAT’s US cigarette sales, making it a bigger casualty of the potential ban than its competitors Altria and Imperial Brands. “The FDA concluded in 2013 that menthols are harder to quit and likely pose a greater health risk than regular cigarettes. The agency said use of the cigarettes, which are flavoured with the compound menthol, was likely associated with increased smoking initiation by youth and young adults, possibly because menthol helps reduce the throat irritation caused by cigarette smoke,” the Wall Street Journal wrote. When BAT stepped up its presence in the US last year by acquiri...

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