Menthol cigarettes are banned as new anti-smoking laws come into force

May 20, 2020

New anti-smoking laws have come into force banning the sale of flavoured and skinny cigarettes in UK stores.

The move is part of efforts to deter young people from using menthol cigarettes as they are thought to mistakenly believe the flavoured characteristic makes the habit less harmful.

Campaigners have welcomed the new law, but said "it's just a shame" it had taken so long to implement.

The ban was announced by the government last month and comes as part of new EU Tobacco Product Directive laws.

The change does not see the ban extended to menthol filters, but it will be illegal to sell them packaged with cigarettes or tobacco.

Existing laws in the UK already make it illegal to sell menthol cigarettes in packs of more than 20.

Some smokers are said to believe menthol cigarettes are safer than other tobacco products, but there has been no evidence to back that up.

Campaign groups have long been warning about how people can easily become heavily addicted to menthol cigarettes.

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health, said: "Menthol cigarettes are a child-friendly starter product because menthol makes it easier to smoke and to inhale the smoke deep into the lungs.

"Menthol smokers are also more likely to become heavily addicted and find it harder to quit.

"That's why the government concluded a ban on menthol was justified, it's just a shame it's taken so long."

But pro-smoking groups claim the new law is a "gross restriction on consumer choice that will do nothing to stop children smoking".

Simon Clark, director of smokers' rights group, Forest, said: "Many adults have smoked menthol-flavoured cigarettes for decades.

"This week that small pleasure will be taken away from them and the only people who will benefit are the criminals who supply the black market with illegal and counterfeit goods."

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