Menthol Cigarettes & Flavoured Tobacco Ban: What You Need to Know

menthol cigarettes

In new bans against smoking, a number of tobacco products and paraphernalia, including menthol cigarettes, will be outlawed on the 20th May 2020.

These changes come as part of a four-year phasing-out scheme established as a way to discourage people from starting smoking at a younger age.


What is the “Menthol Ban”?

The ban is based on the EU Tobacco Products Directive, and it bans all cigarettes and hand-rolling tobacco that feature a “characterising flavour” other than tobacco.

As menthol cigarettes are one of the most popular forms of flavoured cigarette, the forthcoming regulations have been dubbed the ‘menthol ban’.

Despite being an EU directive, the ban will be going ahead in the UK, despite Brexit, as the plans were first put in place in May 2016.


Which Products Are Being Banned?

The ban covers menthol cigarettes, flavoured hand-rolling tobacco, click-dual cigarettes, skinny cigarettes, and hand-rolling accessories that alter the flavour of the cigarette.

The charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), has revealed that the upcoming ban will mean that cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco cannot be produced or supplied if it:

  • uses a filter, paper, capsule or package containing flavourings:
  • uses a filter, paper or capsule containing nicotine or tobacco;
  • has a feature allowing the consumer to modify the smell, taste, or smoke intensity of the product.

The ban does not include e-cigarettes, so you can still enjoy flavoured nicotine. 


What Happens When the Ban is in Place?

When the ban comes into place on the 20th May 2020, it will become illegal for shops to stock or sell the tobacco products restricted in the ban, as detailed above.

You can still use any menthols or flavoured tobacco that you have once the ban is in place, but you will not be able to purchase new flavoured tobacco products.

You can still buy flavoured tobacco products, including menthol hand-rolling tobacco, up until the 20th May 2020.


Previous Bans

Since 2016, a number of changes have already been enforced for the sale of tobacco. Flavoured cigarettes, such as menthols were restricted to only being sold in packs of 20, and smaller packs of rolling tobacco were also taken off the shelf.

In addition to those changes, tobacco products have been hidden behind the counter in shops and stripped of branded packaging in recent years, in an effort to make smoking seem less appealing and less accessible.


Why Are Menthols Being Banned?

As well as trying to reduce the amount of people smoking in general, the main reason for these new bans is to deter young people from starting smoking. The charity Action on Smoking and Health believe that

“menthol cigarettes relax the airways and the flavour masks the harshness of the smoke, therefore younger people find it easier to smoke”.


How Many People Smoke Menthol Cigarettes?

A 2018 study from the National Center for Biotechnology Information revealed that 12.4 percent of smokers in England choose menthol cigarettes as their preferred or usual smoke. A further 2.2 percent of smokers listed ‘flavoured cigarettes’ as their preferred option.

The ASH charity believe that the ban will help these smokers to quit smoking.


If these changes are going to impact on your smoking habits, then be sure to stock up on your favourite flavoured tobacco products, or buy some tobacco flavouring to help transition into other forms of tobacco.


Image Credit: Sarah Johnson

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