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Menthol cigarettes could be banned

US authorities are considering a ban on menthol-flavoured cigarettes
Menthol-flavoured cigarettes were first developed in the United States in the 1920s. Today, menthol-flavoured brands account for a third of all cigarettes bought in the US. But could their days be numbered?

Shares in tobacco companies have fallen on reports the authorities in the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) plan to ban them.

Professor Robert West, director of tobacco studies at University College London, explains why the FDA is concerned about menthol cigarettes.

(Image: man smoking a cigarette. Credit: Getty Images)

'Controversial' but people still like smoking

Today Programme

BBC Radio 4

Getty Images

Tobacco firm Imperial Brands has reported flat full-year sales at £30.5bn and profits at £1.8bn as cigarette volumes dip and vaping grows.

Imperial's chief executive Alison Cooper tells the Today programme: "At Imperial, we are looking to offer something better for smokers and in particular our e-cigarette portfolio and Blu is a very interesting and successful offering, helping smokers to switch."

So why not stop making cigarettes?

She says: "In terms of the current cigarette-smoking population, many of them very much enjoy smoking. We know it is a controversial product but therefore it is even more important that responsible companies continue to deliver that product to smokers."

Girl, 16, sold vaping products

She was part of a sting to catch shops selling vaping products illegally.
She was part of a Trading Standards sting to catch shops selling vaping products illegally.