Exploring alternatives

Cigarette manufacturers are developing new ways to deliver menthol in preparation for the EU ban on menthol cigarettes that is scheduled to take effect in May, reports Bloomberg.

Imperial Brands, for example, has started selling cardboard strips that can be inserted into a pack of cigarettes, allowing the cigarettes to take on a minty flavor. Japan Tobacco has released cigarillos, which are exempt from the ban, that release menthol through capsules.

The ban does not apply to tobacco accessories and is likely to intensify competition to lure menthol smokers to alternative products, such as IQOS, which is also exempt from the ban.

Menthol sales will remain legal in Switzerland, which is outside the EU. Some worry that EU demand for menthol cigarettes after the ban will be met by illicit traders with cigarettes from Switzerland.

Menthol cigarettes represent 5 percent of the market in Western Europe, but they generate $11 billion in sales, according to Euromonitor International.