The menthol ban: What you need to know.

Remember 2016? It was a bit of a downer year: Political chaos (at least we’re not still talking about Brexit, four years later, eh…? <sobs internally>), a tidal wave of celebrity deaths and the introduction of some of the most prohibitive tobacco laws to date. Yes, this was the year where “plain” (read “disgusting”) packaging, minimum pack sizes and a ban on all “Characterising flavours” were all introduced to the UK. Well, at the time of writing (end of January) 2020 is starting to look like the new 2016. Not even a month into the new decade and we’ve already had devastating fires, scary virus outbreaks, some deeply saddening deaths (RIP Kobe, Terry Jones and many, many more… already!) and just to keep in line, the continuation of 2016’s tobacco flavour ban.

2016’s initial flavour ban focused on what they called “Characterising flavours” which basically translates to anything that is an “actual” flavour, e.g. Cherry, vanilla, chocolate, etc. However, menthol flavours were given a reprieve… until 2020. So here we are; on May 20th 2020, on the four-year anniversary of the initial ban, they’re back to finish what they started in 2016, by banning all menthol flavoured cigarettes and rolling tobacco from the UK market. Because smokers aren’t allowed to enjoy being smokers, remember?

If you’re a menthol fan, you might be asking “Well, is that it then?” Fortunately, the answer is no; while the ban removes actual menthol cigarettes and rolling tobacco from the market, there are still some options for anyone who wants to keep enjoying the taste:

Menthol Tips: This is the most obvious and easy solution. While menthol tobacco will be off the table, menthol flavoured tips will not be included in the ban. This is the option that a good proportion of roll up smokers use for mentholating their cigarettes already, so they’ll be breathing a cool, menthol-tinged sigh of relief that they’ll be able to continue doing so.


Flavour Cards: Ok, so menthol tips are a good solution for roll up smokers, but what about premade cigarettes? There is an equally easy, but lesser known solution: Flavour cards. These actually work in the same way that menthol cigarettes are flavoured now; it’s a heavily scented card that can be put into a pack of cigarettes or tobacco in order to transfer the flavour (in the same way current menthol cigarettes are lined with a heavily menthol scented foil for flavouring.) Leave in for around an hour to transfer the flavour, the longer it is left, the more pronounced the taste will be. These also come in a variety of flavours, including some cool twists on menthol such as Double Mint and Lime & Mint (AKA: A Mojito!).

Flavour Sprays: These handy little sprays use the exact same flavouring that Gawith & Hoggarth used for flavouring their range of Auld Kendal flavoured rolling tobacco, prior to the 2016 ban, just in personal form. On top of their classics, such as Cherry and Vanilla (and Cherry & Vanilla) they also feature a standard menthol and a spearmint flavour spray. Officially, these are designed for tobacco, but they can potentially work with cigarettes too, you’ll just need to let them dry before smoking. The aforementioned cards are much more practical for premade cigarettes though.

Coarse cut: As was the case with the initial flavour ban, the law applies specifically to rolling/fine cut tobacco. “Coarse cut” tobacco is technically pipe tobacco, but it is the finest possible cut it can be before being classed as a rolling tobacco. This means it is possible to use it for rolling (you might just find it needs a bit of shredding beforehand) but none of the rolling tobacco rules apply to it. So it will still be available in menthol, as well as a variety of other flavours.

So, there you go; 2020 might already be shaping up to be another rough, uncertain year, but at least menthol smokers have one less thing to worry about.


Store manager @ Turmeaus Chester

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