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Today the ban on menthol cigarettes comes into place, in an attempt to curb the number of smokers in the UK and prevent young people from taking up the habit.
But despite there being 1.3million smokers in the UK alone, very few people actually know when menthol cigarettes will stop being sold in supermarkets, newsagents and shops.
The law stems from the EU Tobacco Products Directive 2014, which has been put into UK law and will remain in place after we leave the European Union. It’s part of a wider plan, put in place by the government last year to have a completely "smokefree" England by 2030.
When will menthol cigarettes stop?
The ban on menthol cigarettes and tobacco is due to come into place today [May 20], with product being withdrawn from shelves before this date.
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It’s a move that’s been criticised by some retailers, however the transition period between the new law being announced and the ban has been three years longer for menthol cigarettes than for other types. Cigarettes that hide the flavour of traditional tobacco were first prohibited in 2017.
Why is the menthol smoking ban coming into place?
Andrew da Roza is a psychotherapist who specialises in addictions. He says, “The aim of the ban is to encourage quitting by restricting the sale of menthol cigarettes, while allowing those smokers who can’t or won’t quit to switch to smoke-free alternatives, including menthol flavoured products.”
Focusing on the impact of menthol cigarette smoking on young people, research (opens in new tab) from the government demonstrated that those who smoke menthol cigarettes are likely to be younger and newer smokers. This is perhaps because of the intentional way that menthol creates a sweeter smoke, making it easier to inhale smoke into the lungs.
There is also a great risk nicotine dependency for young people who started smoking with menthol products, compared to those who started with regular non-menthol cigarettes.
By placing a ban on these types of cigarettes therefore, the government is aiming to reduce the amount of people who take up smoking on the whole.
They’ve also cited misinformed opinions over the safety of menthol cigarettes as one of the reasons for the ban, since some young people smoke menthol products as they wrongly consider them to be less harmful than regular cigarettes.
Will people be able to buy menthol cigarettes anywhere?
The ban on these cigarettes requires retailers to have sold all their product by May 20. This means that people will no longer be able to buy menthol cigarettes and flavoured hand-rolling tobacco anywhere after this date.
However, menthol cigarillos and filters will still be legal to buy.
What alternatives are there for menthol cigarette smokers?
Naturally, the best decision that any smoker can make following the menthol ban is to stop smoking completely. The true impact of smoking has been further underlined by this law, with concrete proof pointing out that menthol cigarettes are linked to an increased chance of nicotine addiction.
However, for those adults who don’t want to quit smoking there are other menthol-based options available to buy that are better than continuing to smoke.
The ban includes menthol capsule, click on, click & roll, crushball and dual menthol cigarettes products, but it does not include heated tobacco products or e-cigarette products so if you are a menthol cigarette smoker, you can switch to one of these.