Simon Clark, director of the smokers’ group Forest, says the upcoming ban on menthol cigarettes in the EU and the U.K. will hit consumers at the worst possible time.
“The Covid-19 pandemic is having a huge impact on people’s daily lives,” he said. “This is not the moment to prohibit a product many smokers enjoy and take comfort from. Given the current crisis, and the disruption and anxiety it is causing, the ban is going to hit consumers at the worst possible time.”
From May 20, 2020, it will be an offense for manufacturers to produce menthol cigarettes and for retailers to sell menthol cigarettes in the U.K. and throughout the European Union.
The ban also applies to hand-rolling tobacco with mentholated filters or papers if they are supplied together in the same product.
Clark worries that the menthol ban will catch many smokers unprepared. “We believe that a significant number of smokers are unaware of the forthcoming ban,” he said. “They will be shocked when they find that their favorite brands are no longer available via legitimate retailers. The government is understandably preoccupied with more serious issues, but imposing prohibition on so many consumers without a proper awareness campaign is inexcusable.”