Menthol cigarettes to be banned in Ireland from Wednesday

The ban comes into force under an EU directive six years ago

Cigarette companies ‘have consistently targeted women’ with menthol cigarette  products, the Irish Heart Foundation said. File photograph: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

Cigarette companies ‘have consistently targeted women’ with menthol cigarette products, the Irish Heart Foundation said. File photograph: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

 

The sale of menthol cigarettes is being banned across the European Union from Wednesday.

The measure was first introduced into the 2014 EU tobacco products directive.

From 2016 EU member states were given four years to allow smokers to switch from menthol cigarettes to other products or to quit altogether.

The prohibition is contained in the EU (Manufacture, Presentation and Sale of Tobacco and Related Products) regulations 2016 made which comes into effect on Thursday.

The purpose of the ban is to ensure that cigarette and tobacco products for sale can no longer include ingredients that would make smoking more palatable or make it easier for someone to start smoking by masking the taste of tobacco.

The ban has been welcomed by the Minister for Health Simon Harris who said the pleasant taste of menthol masks the true taste of tobacco “and might attract first time smokers or keep people smoking who might wish to quit”.

Mr Harris referenced a report published by the World Health Organisation last week which showed that smokers are more likely to develop severe symptoms with Covid-19 compared to non-smokers.

“It also warned that tobacco is a major risk factor for non-communicable diseases and these conditions increase the risk of developing severe illness when affected by Covid-10. I urge everyone who is thinking about quitting to contact the HSE Quit service for support.”

The Irish Heart Foundation also welcomed the ban on menthol flavoured cigarettes and tobacco.

Its medical director Dr Angie Brown said the ban would contribute to reducing adolescents smoking levels in Ireland. “There has been good research which demonstrates that young people are often introduced to smoking with menthol cigarettes as they find them less harsh and irritative to the throat due to the menthol and therefore more palatable. Unfortunately, that is a way they get introduced to regular smoking.

“There is also evidence that if you smoke menthol cigarettes it’s actually harder to quit so they are possibly even more addictive.”

She added “the cigarette companies have consistently targeted women with these products so we strongly feel that they should be banned and welcome the Government’s decision to do so”.

The national smokers’ quitline can be reached at 1800 201 203 or www.quit.ie for help and advice on giving up.

Menthol cigarettes will also be banned from Wednesday in the UK though the country has now left the EU.