Taking action on smoking and health
From today, Wednesday 20 May 2020, the sale of menthol flavoured cigarettes and tobacco products will be prohibited. This legislation – which stems from the EU Products Directive 2014 – has been transposed into UK law and will remain in place after the end of the transition period for leaving the EU comes to an end on 31 December 2020.
Evidence suggests that menthol – which makes the experience of smoking less harsh – may help establish smoking among young people1 and reduces the likelihood of quitting2. The Scottish Schools Adolescent Lifestyle and Substance Use Survey (SALSUS) 2018 showed that smoking rates amongst 13 and 15 year olds have stalled since 2015, so the introduction of this ban could lead to a reduction in youth smoking rates and help Scottish Government realise their ambition for a smoke-free generation by 2034.
Commenting on the ban, ASH Scotland Chief Executive Sheila Duffy said:
“This is a welcome measure as evidence suggests that menthol cigarettes – which mask some of the harsh effects of smoking – are particularly appealing to young people and can even reduce the likelihood of quitting. We hope this will help drive down youth smoking rates in Scotland where 12% of 15 year olds and 4% of 13 year olds are smoking either regularly or occasionally.
“However, menthol flavoured cigarillos are not included in this legislation and tobacco manufacturers are already developing new products to circumvent the ban – like menthol flavoured filters that can be used with roll your own tobacco – so governments should consider further legislation to close these loopholes.”
Note to Editors:
1) ASH Scotland – Action on Smoking and Health (Scotland) - is the independent Scottish health charity taking action to reduce the harm caused by tobacco. See www.ashscotland.org.uk.
2) The 2014 revised EU Tobacco Products Directive came into force in 2016 and was transposed into UK Law through the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 (TRPR).
3) The Scottish Government published the Scottish Schools Adolescent Lifestyle and Substance Use Survey (SALSUS) 2018 on 26 November 2019. It indicates that youth smoking rates have stalled since 2015. In 2018, 4% of 13 year olds occasionally or regularly smoked (compared to 3% in 2015) and 12% of 15 years olds occasionally or regularly smoked (compared to 12% in 2015)
 A.C. Villanti, L.K. Collins, R.S. Niaura et al, Menthol cigarettes and the public health standard: a systematic review, BMC Public Health, 2017;17(1):983
 A. Herbeć A, M. Zatoński M, W. Zatoński et al, Dependence, plans to quit, quitting self-efficacy and past cessation behaviours among menthol and other flavoured cigarette users in Europe: The EUREST-PLUS ITC Europe Surveys, Tobacco Induced Diseases, 2019;16(2)
Action on Smoking & Health (Scotland) (ASH Scotland) is a registered Scottish charity (SC 010412) and a company limited by guarantee(Scottish company no 141711). The registered office is 8 Frederick Street, Edinburgh EH2 2HB.
ASH Scotland acknowledges with thanks the support of the British Heart Foundation and the Scottish Government in developing our website.