A ban on the sale of menthol cigarettes in the UK comes into effect on Wednesday, May 20 as part of continued efforts to reduce youth uptake of smoking.
The new legislation stems from the EU Tobacco Products Directive 2014 (EUTPD2). and will remain in force after the end of the UK’s EU Exit transition period on December 31, 2020.
The ban also applies to rolling tobacco which is sold with menthol-flavoured filters or papers, and dual menthol cigarettes. The ban does not apply to heated tobacco products or e-cigarette products. There is no sell-through period, which means that retailers must have sold any remaining stock by May 20.
Although some retailer groups have complained about the lack of a sell-through period, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) points out that the prohibition on the sale of menthol flavours has taken three years longer than for all other characterising flavours, which were banned in May 2017.
Staffordshire County Council Trading Standards is offering advice to retailers as the ban comes into effect. Gill Heath, Cabinet Member for Communities at Staffordshire County Council, who has responsibility for trading standards at the authority, said: “The banning of menthol cigarettes follows up on a pledge the Government made back in 2016 that they would help deter young people from taking up smoking. It’s also an important milestone in the Government’s drive towards a smoke-free society by 2030.
“There is evidence that menthol cigarettes can make it easier for people to smoke as they relax the airways and the menthol flavour helps to mask the harshness of the smoke. There is also some belief that menthol cigarettes are better for your health, but there is little evidence to support this and they are just as harmful as regular cigarettes.
“Over the years our trading standards service has been involved in a number of initiatives which has helped reduce the number of people smoking in the county.”
Government-backed research has found that menthol cigarette use is significantly more common among newer, younger smokers. It has also been found that there is greater risk of progression to regular smoking and nicotine dependence for those who start smoking menthol cigarettes compared to those starting with non-menthol cigarettes.