FREE UK DELIVERY ON ORDERS OVER £30+

FREE PHONE 0800 772 0234

Why Were Menthol Cigarettes Banned In The UK


As a menthol cigarette smoker you would of been aware that from the 20th May 2020 in the UK, Menthol cigarettes, skinny cigs and flavoured tobacco products were banned.  This was due to an initiative set by the European Union to protect people from the harmful effects of tobacco. During the first Lockdown, this may have been extra hard on some smokers as you could no longer buy the menthol cigarettes you were used to.

The legislation that the EU put together was called the ‘Tobacco Product Directive’.  This legislation was written to help create a consistent EU approach to help reduce the number of adult smokers.  A part of this legislation was designed to help young people give up smoking or to discourage from starting, with 40% of people in the UK becoming full time smokers before the age of 18.

Does This Legislation Apply Now That We Are No Longer In The EU?

It is important to note that this legislation was adopted back in 2004 and then placed with British law in 2016 through the product and related product regulations.  This means that this law will still apply even though we have left the European Union.

The new laws on menthol cigarettes are uniformly applied across all parts of the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland), so even now in 2021, there will be no popping over our local borders to buy more.

The Tobacco and related product regulations 2016 meant that smokers would no longer have a choice of any flavoured tobacco products, including menthol. First developed in 1924, menthol cigarettes have long been a feature of the cigarette market.

This ban covered all flavoured tobacco products, including cigarettes and rolling tobacco, as well as all ‘skinny’ cigs. The menthol ban will be brought in with very little media coverage, so people were shocked in May 2020. Should that of happened?

Around 24.5% of all smokers use some form of menthol cigarette / rolling tobacco. But the 20th of May 2020 was the last time that they could buy menthol cigarettes in the UK.

Despite the high popularity of menthol cigarettes, public awareness of the ban on everything menthol seems to be very low (at present). Many people who are / have bought menthol cigarettes, may have walked into a shop after the 20th May 2020, and where not able to purchase their favourite flavour. 

Research has found that 65.7% of young adult menthol smokers stated that they would quit smoking if menthol cigarettes were no longer sold.

One study, published by the AMA (American Medical Association), reviewed the effectiveness of the Canadian province of Ontario’s ban of menthol cigarettes. It found that the ban substantially increased attempts to quit smoking.  The study found that 29.1% of menthol cigarette users who took part in the study attempted to quit shortly after the ban came into force.

Could The Menthol Cigarette Ban Help Smokers Quit?

The study by the AMA provides some evidence that a ban on Menthol Cigarettes could help nudge smokers to quit. The menthol cigarette ban could have similar to the success of some other campaigns that promote taking a break from smoking like ‘No Smoking Day’ on the 10th March or STOPTOBER which happens every October in the UK.

However, Phillip Morris, manufacturers of cigarette brands including Marlboro launched an appeal against the change in law.

Marlboro manufacture over 850 billion cigarettes a year and claimed that change in law would do irreparable damage to them. But this appeal was rightfully declined by the European Court of Justice.

Many people are welcoming the ban. Deborah Arnott of Action on Smoking and Health said:

“Research shows that menthol in cigarettes makes it easier for children to try smoking and to go on to become addicted smokers.  Getting rid of menthol cigarettes will reduce the likelihood of young people taking up smoking and make it easier for smokers to quit. It’s disgraceful that Imperial Tobacco is trying to undermine the ban by selling cards which infuse menthol into cigarettes.  This breaks both the spirit and letter of the law, which bans the use of technical features allowing the consumer to modify the smell and taste of tobacco products.” 

How Has The Coronavirus Effected Cigarette Sales In 2021?

Beyond the menthol cigarette ban in full effect, the Coronavirus pandemic has had a huge impact on many fast-moving consumer good sales. Understandably, it seems consumers in Britain are trying all they can to avoid catching Covid, as seen with massive spikes in sales of household cleaning products and antibacterial gels or vitamin supplements as people try to build up their immune systems.

Faced with this global pandemic that attacks the respiratory system, you would expect to see smokers quitting in their droves and a noticeable decline in tobacco sales to help protect themselves from catching the virus.  But this doesn’t seem to be the case. Sales of tailor-made cigarettes rose 7.3% to £12.4bn for the year to 9 January 2021, while rolling tobacco sales were up a whopping 36.3% from just shy of £3bn to just over £4bn.

This seems counterintuitive that smoking volumes would increase during a pandemic but these increases may be due more stress of working from home, elevated levels of depression or general boredom of being locked down.  Whatever the reason, it may seem that the ban on menthol cigarettes has not had an immediate impact on the consumption of cigarettes.  However, if the ban reflects the results from the Canadian initiatives, perhaps there will be a decline over the medium to long term.

What Can I Do If I Still Have Not Found A Substitute For Menthol Cigarettes?

People who have studied smokers and particularly menthol smokers are of the opinion that most people will either move over to regular tobacco or make the switch over to a menthol flavoured vape.  If you are a Menthol Cigarette smoker, the implementation of the ban could be the ideal opportunity to stop smoking.

Vaping has been so successful in the bid to quit smoking because it takes care of all your smoking triggers. Hand to mouth, inhaling, throat hit, exhaling and keeping the hands occupied. In fact, recent studies from the NHS Stop Smoking Service now claim that people who use e-cigarettes as part of a quit smoking attempt are up to 74% more successful than going cold turkey.  They now suggest vaping is the most effective means of quitting in the UK.

So if you are thinking of quitting smoking and making a switch to vaping, why not look at SMOKO’s wide range of menthol flavours e-cigarette and vaping refills which replicate the smoking sensation of a traditional menthol cigarette.

Since SMOKO’s inception over 9 years ago, we have prevented over 275m cigarettes from being consumed and our customers have saved over £100m.  So with the Menthol Cigarette ban, the global pandemic, the desire to remain healthy and the rising cost of cigarettes, perhaps now is the right time to look for an alternative like e-cigarettes to replace your beloved menthol cigarettes.

If you still feel at a loss, why not give SMOKO a try with a free menthol e-cigarette starter kit (simply pay for the UK shipping). 

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published