MENTHOL cigarettes have been banned and are no longer be available to buy in the UK from today.
New smoking laws, which came into force today, also mean skinny cigarettes have been taken off the shelves.
And the production of click dual cigarettes – such as Sterling Dual – that change from normal to menthol has been stopped.
The move is considered the biggest shake up to smoking since the introduction of e-cigarettes.
It was the final step in a four-year phasing-out period that stemmed from the new EU Tobacco Product Directive laws, which entered into force on May 19, 2014, and became applicable in EU countries on May 20, 2016.
The new laws also saw flavoured cigarettes restricted to packs of 20 – but they're now totally outlawed too.
In 2017, smaller packs of rolling tobacco were banned, as well as 10 packs of cigarettes.
The new rules
Campaigners from Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) say it welcomes the ban.
ASH chief executive, Deborah Arnott, said the new rules mean that “no person may produce or supply cigarettes or hand rolling tobacco with:
(a) a filter, paper, package, capsule or other component containing flavourings;
(b) a filter, paper or capsule containing tobacco or nicotine; or
(c) a technical feature allowing the consumer to modify the smell, taste, or smoke intensity of the product.”
Discourage young people
Cancer Research UK says that two-thirds of smokers start before the age of 18 – the beginning of an addiction which will kill up to two in three long-term smokers.
Deborah Arnott, from ASH, added: “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. The ban on menthol is long overdue, all other cigarette flavourings became illegal three years ago.”
Menthol cigarettes are flavoured with compound menthol, a substance which triggers cold-sensitive nerves in the skin without actually providing a drop in temperature.
And experts say it is a myth that menthol are “lighter on the throat”.
The government hopes the law will reduce the number of smokers across the EU by 2.4 million.
But research for tobacco firm Philip Morris found a third of those hit by the ban will switch to menthol-flavoured vapes, which are still available.
Around 220,000 smokers say they will give up.
Tobacco products have already been hidden under the counter and stripped of branding.
At the time, four of the world's biggest tobacco firms launched a last-ditch legal bid against the move, but it failed.
They claimed the new regulations violated several UK and EU laws and would destroy their property rights by making products indistinguishable from each other.
They also claimed there was a lack of evidence that plain packaging would deter smokers.
Philip Morris International, British American Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco and Japan Tobacco International appealed the laws in the High Court.
But Mr Justice Green dismissed all their grounds, saying: "The regulations were lawful when they were promulgated by Parliament and they are lawful now in the light of the most up-to-date evidence."
May 31 is World No Tobacco Day and it's hoped that more people will give up smoking if they are unable to access their favourites.
The campaign is run by the World Health Organisation.
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