In testimonials collected by smoker advocacy group Forest EU, smokers from across Europe described the imminent ban on menthol cigarettes, which comes into force in every EU member state from May 20 May, as “useless” and “at odds with people’s freedom.”
Patricia from Denmark asked: “Why can’t I decide for myself whether or not to smoke cigarettes with menthol?”
Angelika from the Netherlands shared: “I don’t smoke menthols. But nowadays you are not allowed to determine anything yourself.”
Victoria from Poland said: “Of course, it is good that the EU is concerned about our health, but banning menthol cigarettes is at odds with people’s freedom. Also, it is likely that this measure will create an illegal trade, bringing menthol cigarettes from neighboring countries such as Ukraine.”
Other testimonials can be read on Forest EU’s website.
“This isn’t another restriction. Banning an entire category of cigarette is prohibition,” said Guillaume Périgois, director of Forest EU.
“Banning menthol cigarettes will do little to deter children from smoking and will almost certainly fuel an uncontrolled black market in menthol tobacco products.”
The enactment of the ban on May 20 follows the completion of a four-year phasing-out period under the EU-level Tobacco Products Directive which became applicable in 2016.
Menthol cigarettes are consumed by approximately 7 million EU adults. In 2017, 8 percent of EU monthly smokers said they used menthol flavored tobacco. Menthol tobacco users represented 24 percent of monthly smokers in Finland, 20 percent in Denmark, 16 percent in the Netherlands and Lithuania, 15 percent in Estonia and Latvia, and 14 percent in Belgium, according to Eurobarometer.
Menthol tobacco generates an estimate of €10 billion ($10.84 billion) in sales across the continent, according to Euromonitor.