U.K., EU Menthol Ban Starts Today

The prohibition will not allow for sell-through, and it includes flavored cigarettes.

May 20, 2020

LONDON—Beginning May 20, the European Union Revised Tobacco Products Directive makes it an offense for retailers to sell menthol cigarettes and manufacturers to produce them, according to the Association of Convenience Stores. The United Kingdom’s exit from the EU does not impact the menthol ban.

The ban also applies to capsule, click on, click & roll, crushball or dual menthol cigarettes. The law also prohibits fruit-flavored cigarettes, including spices, sweet and vanilla flavorings. 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 through any remaining stock of menthol cigarettes by today or remove them from shelves.

The ban has been labeled the largest change to smoking since e-cigarettes appeared on the scene. “Quitting is best, but if that’s not possible, then menthol heating tobacco is better than continuing to smoke,” said Peter Nixon with Philip Morris in the Mirror.

Ireland’s Health Minister Simon Harris said the ban ensures tobacco products no longer have ingredients making smoking “more palatable,” the Irish Mirror reports.

In the U.S., the House of Representatives in March passed a bill banning traditional flavored tobacco products—menthol cigarettes, flavored cigars and smokeless tobacco. However, the U.S. Senate has yet to introduce a companion bill. NACS strongly opposed the measure, saying in a letter to lawmakers: “It is unreasonable to assume that consumers will simply transition away from these flavored products to unflavored tobacco alternatives. Instead, a ban on menthol cigarettes, flavored smokeless tobacco and flavored cigars will undoubtedly lead to a black market for these products because of the broad consumer base that exists among adult users.”