Shares of Louisville-based Turning Point Brands fell 3.4 percent Friday morning after The Washington Post reported that the FDA plans to “impose severe restrictions” on sales of e-cigarette products.
TPB sells products including chewing tobacco and rolling papers for cigarettes, but has spent significant capital recently to expand its capabilities to sell vaping and related products. Its NewGen segment, which includes vaping products, was its largest by sales in the third quarter, accounting for 40 percent of total net sales. The segment’s sales rose 33.1 percent compared to a year ago.
The WaPo report said that Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb “is expected to announce a ban on the sale of most flavored e-cigarettes in tens of thousands of convenience stores and gas stations across the country, according to senior agency officials.”
The FDA chief in September issued an e-cigarette warning, calling youth use of the product and “epidemic” and a “clear and present danger.” The FDA had sent more than 1,300 warning letters and was threatening to fine retailers who illegally sold JUUL and other e-cigarette products to minors during a nationwide, undercover investigation this summer. Eight retailers in Louisville received warning letters.
The agency asked five e-cigarette manufacturers to put forward plans “to immediately and substantially” reverse trends that make e-cigarettes popular among youth — or face federal intervention.
That news had sent TPB shares down more than 10 percent. Shares also fell 11 percent Wednesday after the company reported poorer-than-expected third-quarter results.
TPB could not immediately be reached Friday morning, but CEO Larry Wexler said this week in a call with analysts that the company supports the FDA’s actions “to limit access of vapor and tobacco products to minors.”
That includes inappropriate packaging and marketing of vapor products, he said.
”There’s simply no need for products in the market that resemble a child’s juice box,” Wexler said.
The CEO said that he expects the FDA to issue “a new action plan in the coming weeks” and that TPB remains engaged with the agency “as we believe it is especially important to offer a variety of appropriately marked juice-flavored e-liquids to our adult consumers options as they seek a pathway away from the cigarettes.”
Shares of TPB traded at $36.81 shortly before 11 a.m. Friday, down 3.4 percent for the day — though they’re still up 74 percent for the year.
This post may be updated.