Getting ready for the menthol ban

JTI is seeking to increase awareness of the legislation change that’s coming in May, with a new site for trade and consumers

The menthol ban goes live on 20 May. The ban affects cigarettes, but not cigar or e-cigarette menthol SKUs.

MENTHOL cigarettes will be banned from 20 May, but there are some retailers, and plenty of consumers, who are unsure of exactly what this means.

A recent survey of retailers conducted by JTI revealed that more than one third did not know what products were included in the ban, while 77% of those surveyed said they were concerned the change would have a negative impact on their business.

In a bid to boost awareness among retailers and consumers, JTI has launched a new educational site which covers the ban in detail.

Accessible through the JTIAdvance website, the menthol ban site includes practical information and a video for retailers, which is accessible with a JTI login.

On the consumer facing side of the site, there is information for existing adult smokers on how the ban might affect them. The site will be advertised across 650 local news media sites in a bid to get consumers to access the information.

The website launch is part of a wider programme of menthol ban related activities from JTI.

Yexley said that JTI has been working on preparations for the ban for over a year, to ensure the transition goes smoothly.

“There’s no doubt that it’s definitely one of the biggest changes to the category that we’ve faced for a number of years,” he said.

According to Yexley, menthol and capsule products are worth around 25% of the cigarette market in the UK, with approximately 5.4 billion sticks sold last year.

And because of the popularity of menthol products, Yexley said JTI is advising retailers to continue to sell them right up to the cut off date. He also confirmed that JTI will swap back unsold menthol stock once the ban goes live.

“The crucial thing for the retailer at the moment is to continue to benefit from the menthol and capsule category between now and May.

“Once we get to May, the key thing is to make sure retailers have all the knowledge to have conversations with their customers about what the opportunities are after the ban,” he said.

When customers are unable to purchase menthol cigarettes on 20 May, Yexley said that JTI expects most existing adult smokers will switch to another product within their preferred brand’s portfolio.

But for those who don’t, Yexley suggested the recently launched Sterling Dual Capsule wrapped cigarillo, which has a menthol capsule; JTI’s vaping brand Logic; and the recently launched nicotine pouch brand Nordic Spirit could all be viable alternatives.

“These are all the kind of products, as well as the normal brand family of cigarette products, that retailers need to be aware of,” he said.

While menthol alternatives outside of cigarettes will still be legal on 20 May, Yexley said that JTI is concerned there is potential for organised crime to flood the market with “cheap, fake menthol and capsule alternatives.”

“We do have a concern and it is really important that retailers aren’t drawn into being tempted to sell these fake alternatives under the counter. And for consumers it’s the same. Don’t be tempted into buying these products; you’re inviting criminality into your community,” he said.

Retailers in the dark on what menthol ban means

23%Did not know that capsule cigarettes would be outlawed.

34% Incorrectly believed that mentholated smoking accessories will be banned

24% Did not know that there will be no sell through period when the ban goes live.

One fifth Believed that menthol e-liquids will be included in the ban. They won’t.

 – Source: survey of over 350 retailers carried out via