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Menthol cigarettes will be banned in Ireland from May

Minister Harris says there is evidence that menthol flavoured cigarettes may be more addictive.

Image: Shutterstock/Razvan Stroie

MENTHOL CIGARETTES WILL be banned in Ireland from the 20 May 2020. 

All tobacco products with flavours, with the exception of menthol, were prohibited in 2016. However the banning of menthol cigarettes was pushed out to 2020.

A European Court of Justice ruling four years ago declared that the flavouring is used to increase the attractiveness of cigarettes.

“Menthol, by its pleasant flavour, makes tobacco products more attractive to consumers and … reducing the attractiveness of those products may contribute to reducing the prevalence of tobacco use and dependence among new and continuing users,” said the ruling.

Menthol cigarettes are flavoured using mint flavourings or extracts. While they have not been proven to be any more toxic than regular cigarettes, a study by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found that the available studies suggest they are more addictive and harder to quit. 

Welcoming the progress in prohibiting the cigarettes, Health Minister Simon Harris said 6,000 deaths a year are caused by smoking.

“Despite significant progress in this area, tobacco remains one of the greatest challenges in the area of public health. I am determined to continue to make the necessary legislative changes to confront this challenge and help reach our goals of being Tobacco Free,” he said. 

“But it is important European colleagues stand together on this issue. In Ireland, all tobacco products with characterising flavours with the exception of menthol were prohibited with effect from 20th May 2016.

“Menthol will be prohibited with effect from 20th May 2020. This is required by Regulation 8 of the European Union (Manufacture, Presentation and Sale of Tobacco and Related Products) Regulations 2016.

“It is obvious flavoured cigarettes are targeted at young people and are aimed at encouraging a new generation to take up smoking,” he said.

He added:

“But just because they smell a bit nicer does not mean they are less harmful. They cause many diseases, including cancer and heart disease. Some research shows that menthol cigarettes may be more addictive than non-menthol cigarettes.

“The changes will also mean slim packs and other irregular shaped packs will no longer be allowed. The industry has continued to adapt and lure our children into this deadly addiction and we must continue to act also.”

The minister has also pledged to outlaw certain flavoured vaping products. 

Certain flavoured e-cigarettes such as candy floss and bubblegum could be banned next year, according to the minister who said before Christmas that the government will this year ban the sale of e-cigarettes to under 18s and introduce a raft of advertising restrictions similar to those introduced in relation to alcohol this year.

Vaping

In addition, the minister said he is looking at addressing issues in relation to the sale of certain flavoured e-cigarettes, which he states are deliberately targeting children.

Yesterday, the Trump administration announced a ban on some e-cigarette flavours, including fruit and mint. The move is aimed at tackling the rising teenage use of vaping products.

Tweeting yesterday, Harris said he will be carefully considering what the US has done and “how we may be able to learn from it”.

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