EU states ban menthol, flavoured cigarettes

File: Smokers and suppliers have had some time to get used to the idea. The ban was passed in 2014 and a four-year market transition began in 2016.

File: Smokers and suppliers have had some time to get used to the idea. The ban was passed in 2014 and a four-year market transition began in 2016.

Amaury Cornu / Reuters

BRUSSELS - European Union states -- along with Brexiting Britain -- implemented a ban on sales of menthol and other flavoured cigarettes as a public health measure.

Smokers and suppliers have had some time to get used to the idea. The ban was passed in 2014 and a four-year market transition began in 2016.

But menthol-flavoured tobacco is still popular in some areas, particularly in the east of the EU, and officials expect many consumers will turn to the black market.

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Shoppers will also be able to hop over Europe's borders to some EU neighbours such as Switzerland to stock up.

Anti-tobacco campaigners, who see flavoured cigarettes as one of the ways the industry tempts young smokers to develop an unhealthy habit, welcomed the move.

"It's just a shame it's taken so long," said Deborah Arnott of British anti-smoking group ASH, warning that 280 English children start smoking every day.

But smokers' rights group Forest disagreed, arguing that Canada's experience shows a menthol ban did not reduce child smoking but reduced freedom of choice for adults.

READ: 'No doubt' e-cigarettes harmful: WHO

The only people who will benefit are the criminals who supply the black market with illegal and counterfeit goods, director Simon Clark said.

Polish consumer group Forum Konsumentow published a survey showing that 51 percent of smokers even didn't know the long-planned ban was imminent.

And 20 percent of respondents said they'd be ready to buy black-market menthol cigarettes.

Source
AFP