Almost three million smokers in the UK are unaware that menthol flavoured cigarettes will be outlawed next week, according to a poll published today.
The ban, to be introduced on 20 May, also applies to capsule, crushball or dual menthol cigarettes.
A survey of 2,091 adults conducted by Populus for the smokers’ group Forest found that almost 40 per cent of smokers are oblivious to the new regulations.
The poll also found that:
- only 16 per cent of the public (14 per cent of smokers) thought the ban would reduce smoking rates in the UK, 61 per cent (73 per cent of smokers) said it would ‘make no difference’, and 20 per cent (9 per cent of smokers) didn’t know
On the question of illicit trade:
- 38 per cent of the public (46 per cent of smokers) thought the ban on menthol cigarettes would increase illicit trade, 35 per cent (and 35 per cent of smokers) thought it would make no difference, and 24 per cent (13 per cent of smokers) didn’t know
The public was divided equally on whether the ban on menthol cigarettes was a reasonable or an unreasonable restriction on adult consumer choice:
- 35 per cent of the public (17 per cent of smokers) said it was a reasonable restriction, while 38 per cent (68 per cent of smokers) said it was an unreasonable restriction
Public opinion was similarly split on whether anti-tobacco regulations have gone ‘far enough’.
- 36 per cent of respondents agreed that anti-tobacco regulations have gone ‘far enough’, 36 per cent disagreed, and 28 per cent neither agreed nor disagreed
- among smokers, 67 per cent said anti-tobacco regulations have gone ‘far enough’, 11 per cent disagreed, and 22 per cent neither agreed nor disagreed
Menthol and capsule cigarettes account for 25 per cent (one in four) of the UK cigarette market.
Simon Clark, director of the smokers’ group Forest, said: “This is the worst possible time to prohibit the sale of a product enjoyed by almost a quarter of all smokers in the UK.
“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.
“There is no evidence that banning menthol cigarettes will reduce youth smoking rates. This is more to do with big government flexing its muscles and bullying a substantial group of consumers, many of them elderly, in the hope they will quit smoking.
“The government must stop treating adults like children and allow us to make our own choices without excessive rules and regulations.”