The latest statement from the FDA demanding major e-cigarette brands take decisive action on teen use or face censure has seen tobacco stocks rise.
As the five largest e-cigarette brands in the US face threats and the FDA floats the idea of a federal flavour ban, stocks of leading tobacco manufacturers have risen.
According to Bloomberg, less than a day after uncompromising words from FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb made waves in the vaping industry and mainstream press, tobacco stocks were “rallying the most in a decade.”
A CNBC analysis identified the three biggest beneficiaries:
“Shares of Altria rose more nearly seven percent to their best day since November, 2008. Philip Morris International increased about 3 percent. British American Tobacco shares increased nearly six percent to their best day since December, 2008. In London, Imperial Brands rose three percent.”
To independent e-cigarette companies, who have long defined themselves as at odds with Big Tobacco, this is vindication. The e-cigarette’s public image and appeal is shaped by its usefulness as a cessation tool and relative safety compared to combustion.
That an overt threat to e-liquid flavourings would boost tobacco stocks confirms the potential vaping still has to encroach on the smoker demographic and end their dependency on such a harmful activity.
Cowen analyst Vivien Azer observed that “Tobacco investors have grown increasingly concerned that the widespread popularity of e-cigarettes is having a negative impact on the old-school industry.”
However, the situation may be more complex.
Firstly, the FDA report also re-asserted its commitment to keeping smoking rates down, but four of the five brands named in the FDA report and threatened with legal action are owned by tobacco companies, which have asked the FDA to review heat-not-burn devices. The “old-school industry” may be moving past combustion and into smokeless heat, with only flavoured e-liquid, the lifeblood of independent vaping, taking a hit.