BAT says would fight menthol cigarette ban if proposed in U.S.

LONDON, Feb 28 (Reuters) - British American Tobacco would challenge restrictions on menthol cigarettes by U.S. health regulators, due to its belief that they would have no impact on smoking rates, its chief executive told Reuters on Thursday.

The U.S. FDA said in 2017 it would consider possibly banning menthol flavouring in tobacco products as part of efforts to curb underage smoking.

“We don’t see any scientific research so far that proves (banning mentholated cigarettes) reduces youth consumption or reduces uptake of cigarettes to youngsters,” Chief Executive Nicandro Durante said. “So we are going to challenge.”

He said Canada’s 2017 menthol ban had no impact on smoking rates. In any event, any such regulation is likely five to nine years away, he said.

On the other hand, Durante said BAT supported the FDA’s efforts to reduce under-age vaping.

“BAT doesn’t target underage consumers and I think everything the FDA could do in order to avoid this to happen, you have the full support of BAT,” he said.

Reporting by Martinne Geller; editing by Jason Neely