BAT has admonished Ireland’s tobacco regulator for failing to take action against competitors selling new products that may be in breach of the EU ban on menthol cigarettes, reports The Irish Times.
There is “no rationale for the HSE to further delay” its action against tobacco companies that may be breaching the ban, BAT wrote in a letter to the Health Service Executive (HSE) this week. “We are concerned that inaction is leading to more products appearing on the market.”
The HSE said a year ago that it would investigate tobacco companies for allegedly breaching the Europe-wide ban on menthol flavors, which some have allegedly tried to circumvent with techniques exploiting loopholes while marketing them as menthol substitutes.
Japan Tobacco International, for example, launched Silk Cut Choice Green, which it admitted still contained traces of menthol. The company insists Silk Cut Choice Green complies with rules because the cigarettes don’t taste or smell of menthol. Philip Morris, the maker of Marlboro, also launched a new brand targeted at smokers of its old Marlboro Green but says the new product is legal and menthol-free. BAT did not launch a menthol substitute.
Despite its year-long investigation, the HSE’s Tobacco Control Office has yet to issue any findings.
Ireland’s market for the flavored cigarettes was worth up to €250 million ($304.92 million) before the ban came into force last May.
Tobacco Reporter detailed the industry’s efforts to serve former menthol smokers in the EU with alternative products in June 2020.