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European Union and the United Kingdom ban menthol cigarettes
Despite Brexit, the United Kingdom (UK) followed the European Tobacco Products Directive to ban the manufacture and sale of menthol cigarettes since 20 May 2020, with extra regulations to phase out flavoured cigarettes.

To discourage youngsters from taking up smoking, the UK has already banned cigarettes in packs of 10 since 2017 to make smoking less affordable to young people. Perceived as more palatable and less harmful, menthol cigarettes are youth-appealing. The menthol ban aims to reduce youth appeal of cigarettes and deter youth smoking. As a further step to phase out flavoured cigarettes, the UK has also banned the manufacture and sale of cigarettes with features that allow customers to modify the smell, taste or smoke intensity of cigarettes.

Tobacco companies are known to employ tactics to circumvent tobacco control measures. UK researchers found that tobacco companies have designed accessories such as menthol filters and “flavor cards” that can add minty flavours to cigarettes. Sold separately from cigarettes, the accessories bypass the law.

The World Health Organization (WHO) designates 31st May of each year as World No Tobacco Day (WNTD). With the theme “Protecting youth from industry manipulation and preventing them from tobacco and nicotine use”, the WNTD 2020 exposes the tactics that tobacco companies employ to attract young people to tobacco and nicotine products, including the use of youth-appealing flavours, attractive product designs, promotion claims of “harm reduction”, sponsoring celebrities/influencers and brand events, point-of-sale marketing at vending outlets frequented by youths, and indirect marketing, etc.

In response to the WHO’s call to action in preventing youth from use of tobacco products, COSH urges the Hong Kong government to make reference to overseas experience and ban flavoured cigarettes. Alternative smoking products, including e-cigarettes and heat-not-burn tobacco products, target at young people. COSH reiterates the need to promptly pass the bill to completely ban alternative smoking products, and advocate the government to ban point-of-sale tobacco product display to plug the loophole in tobacco product promotion.

Source: Mail Online

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