LONDON (Reuters) - British American Tobacco does not believe there is scientific evidence to support potential U.S. restrictions on menthol cigarettes and believes such restrictions 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 told Reuters in an interview.
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.
(This version of the story corrects to show the company challenges there is basis for menthol ban, not would challenge potential ban)
Reporting by Martinne Geller