Japan Tobacco International claims that while its newly launched Silk Cut Choice Green, still contain traces of menthol, they are in compliance with regulations as they don’t taste or smell of menthol.
Last May, Ireland banned menthol cigarettes, rolling tobacco and irregularly shaped cigarettes such as slims. The move is part of a four year phasing-out period by the EU Tobacco Product Directive (TPD) which entered into force on May 2014 and became applicable across the EU in May 2016. In line with arguments by countless other health experts, Chair of the Policy Group on Tobacco at the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, Professor Des Cox, said he supports the ban because menthols make initiating smoking easier.
“There’s been good research which demonstrates that young people are introduced to smoking often by menthol cigarettes as they find them more attractive, they find them less irritative and they find them more palatable, so that’s a way they get introduced to regular smoking. Also the cigarette companies today have targeted women with these products so we strongly feel that they should be banned and welcome the government’s decision to take this legislation forward,” said Cox.
Some research has also suggested that menthols may boost nicotine levels in the blood, making them more addictive and harder to quit than regular cigarettes. “There’s also evidence there that if you smoke menthol cigarettes it’s actually harder to quit so potentially they’re more addictive and there is pharmacological evidence of that because it seems that menthol affects nicotine levels, decreases the breakdown and affects the receptors in the brain so raising the levels of nicotine,” said Dr. Angie Brown, Chair of the anti-smoking lobby group Action on Smoking and Health Ireland (ASH).
Tobacco companies are marketing products as menthol substitutes
Meanwhile, British American Tobacco (BAT), which trades in Ireland as PJ Carroll, is accusing the State’s tobacco regulator of “inaction.” The tobacco giant is highlighting that its commercial rivals are selling new products that may be in breach of the ban.
Indeed last year, the Health Service Executive said it would investigate tobacco companies for allegedly breaching the Europe-wide ban on menthol flavours, by exploiting possible loopholes, such as marketing the products as menthol substitutes. Japan Tobacco International, for example, launched Silk Cut Choice Green, which it admitted still contained traces of menthol, but claims is in compliance with rules because they don’t taste or smell of menthol. Similarly, Philip Morris, the maker of Marlboro, also launched a new brand targeted at smokers of its old Marlboro Green, but insists the new product is legal and menthol-free.
Read Further: Irish Times