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Whether you're a smoker or not, you're likely to have heard by now that menthol cigarettes have been banned in the UK as of today (20 May).
The theory is that menthol cigarettes make it easier for young people to start smoking, thanks to the fact that firstly, they taste nicer, and also, they open the airways - making it easier for children to inhale before they become addicted to nicotine and find themselves smoking normal cigarettes.
In a LADbible Twitter poll, more than a third of the 8,000 menthol smokers that replied said they now plan to quit as a result of the ban:
As a menthol smoker, what action do you plan to take?
- LADbible (@ladbible) May 19, 2020
But, seeing as the ban doesn't apply to menthol filters, a quarter of people have said they will just switch to using them instead.
Deborah Arnott, CEO of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) thinks that the choice not to ban other menthol flavoured products is down to one thing - sales.
Speaking to LADbible, she said: "That's why they're doing so much to circumvent the ban by selling menthol inserts for fag packets and filters to roll your own.
"They've also launched menthol flavoured cigarillos, which are effectively cigarettes rolled in tobacco leaf which means they're not classed as cigarettes so not included in the ban. It's time the government grasped the nettle and banned all these menthol products, not just cigarettes alone."
And it seems that although it's a small step in the right direction, 54 percent of people don't think it makes the nasty habit less appealing - even though smoking costs thousands of people their lives each year and drains money from the NHS.
According to a study by the Office for National Statistics in 2018, 77,800 deaths in England alone were attributable to smoking. It also says that 5,500 deaths each year in Wales, 10,000 deaths per year in Scotland and 2,300 deaths per year in Northern Ireland are all put down to problems arising because of the addiction.
Some of the latest figures from the government say that smokers cost the NHS about £2.5 billion in England alone, each year - this includes the cost of treating illnesses caused by smoking, like cancer and heart problems, as well as prescriptions for help with stopping smoking.
Of course, the government does charge tax on tobacco companies - although the companies still make upwards of £1 billion per year - and according to the Institute of Economic Affairs, this, and the fact that people die early from smoking-related diseases so claim less of their state pension, means the costs are more than covered.
Like many others - if the responses to our Twitter poll are anything to go by - 21-year-old Matt, from Horsham, thinks people are informed enough to make their own decision.
Speaking to LADbible, he said: "Everyone knows smoking is bad for you. In the past few years the UK has outlawed any branding, advertising, smaller packs and made them double or triple the price they used to be.
"The argument that kids are going to start smoking these days just because it's a menthol I think is a bit ridiculous. I feel the UK has already done enough and although it's frustrating to smokers, I understand the other regulations brought in but there's got to be a point where enough is enough.
"I believe people should be able to choose their lifestyle and not be judged. We get educated that smoking is bad at a young age and these days, with all packaging being an unattractive brown colour and very expensive, I can't imagine nearly as many people would want to start the habit as they did years ago.
"Even if they do, there is enough education and graphic warnings plus the price to put people off and if people still want to start, I believe that it's their life and they should have that choice. Funny thing is, now tobacco companies have brought out products to get around the ban so... there's literally no point in it."
As Matt rightly states - although the sale of menthol ciggies, 'capsule, click on, click & roll, crushball or dual menthol cigarettes', are banned according to the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) - 'retailers can still sell other menthol products including cigarillos and menthol filters'. They can also still 'sell flavoured filters and papers in the same transaction as tobacco products'.
Back to our poll, where 57 percent of you thought that the ban wouldn't affect young people's decisions to take up smoking at all:
Do you agree the ban will deter young people from taking up smoking?
- LADbible (@ladbible) May 19, 2020
Although Public Health England declined to comment on specifics, a statement sent to LADbible read: "The ban on menthol cigarettes is another significant step towards making a smoke free society, particularly as we know they are popular with younger people. It will also give smokers another strong incentive to quit."
Although today's ban is a sure step in the right direction, it seems that tobacco companies have already found loopholes in the new law and neither the public or anti-smoking organisations think it will make much difference either.
Featured Image Credit: PA
Topics: UK News
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