July 5, 2022

Marlboro cigarettes, a product of Philip Morris International

Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Tobacco supplies fell Monday on a report that the Biden government is considering limiting nicotine levels in cigarettes.

The report, quoting people familiar with the matter, was published in the Wall Street Journal. The paper said the discussion came as officials neared a deadline to say whether or not they would like to see a menthol cigarette ban.

The Biden government is trying to determine whether to lower nicotine levels in conjunction with a menthol ban or as a separate policy, people told the Journal.

Nicotine does not cause cancer, but smoking is addicting. The goal of lowering nicotine levels would be to make cigarettes less addictive in hopes of encouraging smokers to quit other products or to switch to other products that are believed to be safer.

The Food and Drug Administration, which oversees tobacco, declined to comment on the report.

“Any action the FDA takes must be based on scientific knowledge and understanding, and consider the real consequences of such action, including the growth of an illegal market and the impact on hundreds of thousands of jobs from farms to local businesses across the country.” Altria spokesman George Parman told CNBC in an email.

Altria shares closed the report by more than 6%. In extended trading on Monday, stocks fell another 2%.

British American Tobacco shares closed 2% on Monday, while Philip Morris International shares ended the day down more than 1%. Both stocks also fell after the market closed.

Philip Morris International declined to comment on the matter. The tobacco company does not sell or market cigarettes in the United States. Even so, his stock fell on the news.

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.