Nearly 40 per cent of smokers unaware of menthol ban: survey

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With less than a week until menthol ban comes into force, a new survey reveals that nearly three million smokers in the UK are unaware on the measure.

The ban of menthol flavoured cigarettes will take effect on 20 May.

A survey commissioned by the smokers’ group Forest found that 39 percent of smokers are oblivious to the new regulations.

The survey also found that the public is skeptic about the effect of the measure on smoking rates, with only 16 percent of the public, and 14 percent of smokers, saying the ban would reduce smoking rates. On contrast, 61 per cent (73 per cent of smokers) said it would ‘make no difference’.

Most think the illicit trade would thrive as a result if the ban with 38 percent of the public saying the trade in counterfeits will increase and 35 percent seeing no difference on illegal trade.

“This is the worst possible time to prohibit the sale of a product enjoyed by almost a quarter of all smokers in the UK,” commented Simon Clark, director of Forest.

“There is going to be a huge amount of confusion when many smokers attempt to buy menthol cigarettes next week. Retailers are going to be faced with a lot of frustrated customers.”

The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has also noted that there could be possible confusion around ‘green’ cigarettes.

Retailers are allowed to sell cigarettes described as ‘green’ or with similar names to a previous menthol product as long as the cigarettes themselves do not contain any menthol. But, customers may be expecting a menthol product when they request ‘green’ cigarettes, the ACS said.

“It is disappointing that despite our urging, the government has not extended the 20th May deadline,” commented James Lowman, ACS chief executive.

“Coronavirus restrictions mean that area managers, wholesale support teams and manufacturer representatives are not on the road and in stores helping retailers to comply, including removing product from stores.”

ACS has developed guidance on the ban for retailers.

Menthol and capsule cigarettes account for 25 percent of the UK cigarette market.