SECOND TAKE: FT'S LEX
THE LEX COLUMN: Tobacco stocks light up on Gottlieb’s exit
Resignation of US food and drug administration chief could help British American Tobacco and Imperial grab market share from vaping firms
Mark Twain is said to have quipped that giving up smoking was so easy, he had done it multiple times. The same might be said of regulation. Promising a crackdown is not so great if you quit before it happens. Tobacco stocks lit up on Tuesday’s news of the resignation of the US food and drug administration (FDA) boss. Shares in 22nd Century, a biotech company that breeds low-nicotine tobacco plants, plunged 22% on the day. Scott Gottlieb’s surprise exit was unlikely to have been the result of pressure, even if some Republican senators complained his efforts to curb vaping by children were heavy-handed. Pharmaceutical companies liked his enthusiasm for innovation. President Donald Trump tweeted he had done “an absolutely terrific job”. Gottlieb’s proposals could, if enacted, have reduced addiction levels significantly. By 2100, US smoking rates were supposed to have dropped from 15% to as low as 1.4%. But his exit raises doubts. Take his crackdown on flavoured e-cigarettes, blamed for...