As of May 20th 2020, the sale and manufacture of menthol cigarettes were banned in the UK as part of the Tobacco Products Directive, as a way to try and improve public health and encourage people to stop smoking and to save lives.
The menthol cigarette ban was also bought in to try and discourage young people from smoking. Tobacco companies have a long history of using flavours to reduce the harshness of their products to make them more appealing to new users, specifically those who are under the legal smoking age. By masking the harshness caused by tobacco smoke, and adding a soothing effect on the throat, this encouraged them to experiment with the product and ultimately become addicted to nicotine.
It was proved in recent studies that smokers of menthol cigarettes or menthol tobacco products were twice as less likely to quit smoking than those who smoked non menthol cigarettes.
The TPD Law and how it affects tobacco products
The Tobacco Products Directive was introduced to harmonise the laws of tobacco and all tobacco related products such as rolling tobacco, cigars, and more recently to include electronic cigarettes.
The policy was widened in an attempt to discourage young people smoking, as well as wanting to help people quit smoking.
The actions taken included the stoppage of smaller packs of cigarettes and rolling tobacco being sold, cigarette packs displaying a health warning that covers at least 50% of the pack design, and packaging being plain and not showing any colourful or attractive designs.
And the most recent revision to these laws being the prohibition of the sale of menthol cigarettes within the EU.
Flavoured tobacco commonly used as pipe tobacco was unaffected by the ban, as well as cigars and flavoured cigars.
The impact of the ban on the tobacco industry
A lot of people expected the sale of tobacco products would take a drastic dive once the menthol ban came into effect, but some tobacco companies experienced quite the opposite to a dive in sales figures.
Before the ban came into effect, statistics showed that one in five smokers purchased menthol cigarettes or menthol related products. With the new proposed rules of banning menthol cigarettes, there was a four year phasing plan put in place on menthol smoking products, and this gave certain tobacco companies long enough to find loopholes and create new products to beat this ban, and continue growing their sales figures.
Even with the ban affecting The UK and the EU, as of 2020, statistics show that 37% of cigarette sales globally are menthol cigarettes. The highest rate since major tobacco companies began to report this data.
Loopholes and how they are being exploited
Japan Tobacco International UK (JPI UK) are the company behind the Sterling brand of tobacco products and the third largest tobacco brand globally. Prior to the ban coming in to effect, they rebranded some of their menthol cigarettes to the new “Dual” type cigarettes and Cigarillos.
These Cigarettes or Cigarillos contain a new blend of tobacco with much lower levels of menthol, either in the filter of the cigarette or within a capsule entwined in the tobacco, that when pushed and clicked down, infuses the cigarillo with a menthol taste.
These have come under massive scrutiny ever since their introduction in to the market, and faced numerous testing’s and research to check they are TPD compliant. Documents available to read online show that in the first year of the menthol ban, the company sold more than 100m packs – equal to more than 2 billion individual cigarettes – and made around £91.65m in profits from menthol brands.
Other products like menthol accessories that are sold separately to cigarette packs or rolling tobacco pouches are probably the most popular amongst smokers who still want their menthol fix. These range from menthol filters, menthol infused rolling papers, or menthol infused cards used to slide into packs of non menthol cigarettes and infuse regular cigarettes with the characterising menthol flavour people had become accustomed to.
Young smokers and menthol cigarettes
Menthol cigarettes were always much more appealing to young smokers, thanks to their cooling properties compared to a standard cigarette, which some may find too harsh on the throat.
Imagine wanting to smoke, and gaining not only a satisfying minty taste but also minimal to zero throat irritation, it is easy to see why a menthol cigarette would be appealing to a young person.
These appealing characteristics have a lot of negatives over positives, as it not only encourages underage smoking, but can also end up forming a new group of addicted smokers by young adults having a nicotine dependence as well as an addiction.
Studies show that when asked if they would quit smoking when menthol cigarettes were banned, a massive 65.7% of young people said yes they would quit. This further turned the hand of the UK government to enforce this legislation and deter young people from either wanting to start smoking, or smoke at all.
Tobacco companies came under fire for their aggressive and targeted marketing of menthol cigarettes to selective audiences. Primarily targeted towards african americans, the marketing was also aimed at young smokers, by using models of similar age or race in adverts, as well as packaging becoming more and more attractive.
What is menthol and the effects it has
Menthol is a chemical found naturally within the peppermint plant as well as other members of the mint plan family.
Menthol can give a soothing, near anaesthetic, effect when inhaled. This can prevent irritation of the sinuses, i.e throat and nasal passage and supress the need to cough.
However, with these flavour characteristics which companies within the tobacco industry heavily marketed, Menthol has zero medicinal effect nor health benefits to the user. If anything, menthol can cause a hinderance by masking any potential under lying respiratory problems created from smoking,
Will there be any new menthol tobacco products created?
As proven by the above mentioned, tobacco companies have found many different alternatives to still market people getting their menthol fix after the menthol cigarette ban, and there could potentially be more new menthol products to come.
People began querying whether Brexit and leaving the EU would have an effect and the ban being potentially lifted, but the public health sector and the government have come forward and said there is no plans to lift the ban or ease restrictions on what can be sold.
Whilst there certainly will not be any new menthol cigarette options hitting the UK market whilst the ban is still in place, more menthol smoking accessories may appear.
How can you make your cigarette taste like menthol?
Traditionally, menthol cigarettes were made by a small amount of menthol being infused within the tobacco leaves, that when burnt would give the cooling menthol sensation on inhale.
Another way people made cigarettes menthol were if they used hand rolling tobacco and opted for a filter tip that was infused with menthol. Or the newer way being the use of menthol infused rolling papers.
At Penthol, we have created an all in one accessory that is mess free and will give a refreshing minty taste for people still wanting menthol cigarettes.
Penthol – What’s it all about?
Penthol was created to give people who wanted to add menthol to their cigarettes a quick working, mess free solution for wanting a menthol tasting cigarette.
Using our patent approved pen style applicator, it instantly leaves you with a cool menthol taste without any need to wait.
With our mess free applicator pen you just need to swipe the cigarette and dab the filter tip and you’re ready to go. No wet filters, no waiting, no mess. It really is as easy as that.
And with 100 applications in a single Penthol applicator, it really is fantastic value for money at only £1.99 per pen.
There are still ways and means for smokers to get the menthol taste they had become accustomed to, and at Penthol we believe we have created the most convenient and cost effective way to achieve this.