Other industry voices have chimed in on the discussion. “We are not at all surprised by the FDA’s announcement as it has been focused on this topic for quite some time and has specifically targeted sales of Juul (branded e-cigarettes) to minors in the recent past,” said Bonnie Herzog, managing director of consumer equity research for Wells Fargo Securities, New York, in a recent research note. “Given Juul’s strong appeal to youth and the FDA’s comments around flavors, we believe Juul is most at risk. Given the market’s overarching concerns about Juul’s impact on cigarettes, especially Marlboro, we think a potential ban on Juul would be positive for Altria.”
Herzog said her concern is that the FDA arrive at “an appropriate level of regulation of tobacco flavors as they are an important tool to get adult smokers to move down the continuum of risk from ‘harmful’ cigarettes to ‘less harmful’ e-cigarettes, vaping and heat-not-burn products.”
Ultimately, she expected the e-cigarette companies to comply with the FDA’s orders and believes Richmond, Va.-based Altria Group Inc. is well-positioned in light of this unfolding news, because it already follows strict protocols with regard to youth access and offers limited and “mature” flavor profiles.