ENSP Fact Sheet Series #2/2020: “Ban on Menthol Cigarettes”


An EU wide ban on menthol cigarettes sales goes into effect on May 20 following the Directive 2014/40/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 3 April 2014 on the approximation of the laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the Member States concerning the manufacture, presentation and sale of tobacco and related products and repealing Directive 2001/37/EC.

The characterizing flavours regulation on tobacco products is one of the key changes for tobacco products sold in 27 EU Member States and the UK since the introduction of Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) in 2016 as stated in the European Commission’s press release: “Cigarettes and roll-your-own (RYO) tobacco products may no longer have characterising flavours such as menthol, vanilla or candy that mask the taste and smell of tobacco. In the case of products with more than a 3% market share (e.g. menthol), the ban will apply as of 2020” while cigars, cigarillos and snus are exempt from this ban.

The ban will apply on menthol cigarettes, but also on capsule, click on, click & roll, dual menthol cigarettes or roll-your-own that comes in the same packaging. However, the directive does not include mentholated papers and filters sold separately from RYO tobacco products. There is no sell-through period of menthol cigarettes, meaning that from 20 May 2020 it will be forbidden to continue selling. Retailers must sell their remaining stock until the due date.

As the due date for the flavoured tobacco products is approaching, tobacco industry has started encouraging the users to switch to vaping or other alternatives, as the directive does not affect them. Heated tobacco products, menthol or flavoured e-liquids flavours as well as other tobacco-free nicotine products are exempted from this decision.

Another worrying fact is that menthol product sales are not banned in Switzerland and other EU border countries and this could possibly fuel smuggling or encourage smokers to buy illegal menthol tobacco products. Illicit trade of tobacco products is a serious crime and all states must concentrate their efforts to combat it.

The European Network for Smoking and Tobacco Prevention (ENSP), through its national members and partners, will support and monitor the full implementation of the characterizing flavours ban as requested by Directive 2014/40/EU.

Read the full factsheet…

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