Why Are Menthol Cigarettes Being Banned In The UK?

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Over the last two decades there have been a few significant changes in UK smoking laws, including where and when you can light up. The smoking ban was implemented in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland in 2007 with Scotland passing a similar law in 2009. The legal age to buy a pack of cigarettes was raised from 16 to 18 in 2007 and packets have had to feature picture warnings since 2008. Now there's been a new change to the laws, but why are menthol cigarettes being banned in the UK in 2020?

EU Tobacco Product Directive laws pledged in 2016 that in 2020 cigarettes or rolling tobacco with "characterising flavours" would be phased out in the UK. This includes, but not limited to, "fruit, spice, herbs, alcohol, candy, menthol or vanilla, which is noticeable before or during the consumption of the tobacco product," according to the Directive document.

Despite cigarette producers such as Malboro appealing against the change, the ban will come into effect in May 2020. It’s part of an initiative to stop or deter young people from smoking, as it's been argued that the flavour of menthols makes the cigarettes more appealing.

Speaking about the ban, Amanda Sandford from Action on Smoking and Health has said, “It's naturally hard to inhale smoke and for many the first time they smoke it is repugnant, but people persevere with it and that's when they become addicted. There's evidence that menthol cigarettes relax the airways and the flavour masks the harshness of the smoke, therefore younger people find it easier to smoke.”

Menthol was first added to cigarettes in the 1920s, according to Smokefree.gov, and tobacco companies were known to advertise them as healthier and safer than normal cigarettes. Smokefree.gov said that the tobacco industry also "targeted 'beginner' smokers, smokers with health concerns, and certain population groups."

The change will mean that menthol cigarettes or any cigarettes or tobacco with flavourings will no longer be sold in the UK. Products that allow people to change the smell, taste, or smoke intensity of a cigarette are also banned under the same intuitive. According to iNews, skinny cigarettes will also be banned from UK stores.