EU kills menthol cigarettes

European Union Directive 2014/40/EU comes into effect in the UK tomorrow – and it’s bad news for smokers.

EU DIRECTIVE 2014/40/EU will come into force in the UK on Friday, bringing with it a total ban on the sale of flavoured cigarettes.

The EU Directive became The Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016, which was laid before the UK parliament on 22 April.

Article 7 of the EU Directive states that:

Member States shall prohibit the placing on the market of tobacco products with a characterising flavour

This is carried forward to Regulation 15 of the UK Regulations as:

No person may produce or supply cigarettes or hand rolling tobacco with a characterising flavour.

Article 2 of the EU Directive provides the killer definition:

‘characterising flavour’ means a clearly noticeable smell or taste other than one of tobacco, resulting from an additive or a combination of additives, including, but not limited to, fruit, spice, herbs, alcohol, candy, menthol or vanilla, which is noticeable before or during the consumption of the tobacco product

However, smokers of menthol cigarettes can breath a small sigh of relief – due to their immense popularity, menthol cigarettes are being treated as a special case and a four-year transition period is authorised by Regulation 56 (3):

The provisions of regulation 15 (flavoured cigarettes etc.) do not apply to menthol cigarettes until 20th May 2020.

EU nannying fussbucketry at its finest!

Hands Off Our Packs!

As a refreshing aside from the gay marriage debate which has raged like a bull on heat, I have today written to my local MP about an issue which has got my own blood pressure rising.

While he is still fresh from opposing gay marriage, I have followed countless libertarians in using the Say No to Plain Packs website to write to Rehman Chishti and urge him to oppose plain packaging on tobacco products.

Let us be fundamentally clear, this is not about protecting the income of tobacco giants, as tobacco displays in large stores are already illegal and will be outlawed for smaller concerns in 2015.

No, he says, as he enjoys a smooth drag on a menthol cigarette, those who choose to smoke know that there are cigarettes for sale behind the cupboard doors or shutters (for one thing, there are usually labels on there saying as much) and with the countless brands being mostly ultimately owned by a handful of companies, it will not matter much to Imperial Tobacco, for example, if you opt for Windsor Blue, JPS, Richmond or Lambert and Butler.

N.b. I chose Imperial Tobacco as my example as they have a 45% market share of tobacco consumption in the UK, not because Windsor Blue, JPS and Richmond are three of the four brands which I choose to smoke.

And, as UKIP MEP and Deputy Leader Paul Nuttall says, “Research shows that ironically plain packaging is more likely to lead to more tobacco consumption.”

Why? “Removing brand imagery leads consumers to shift their preferences away from premium brands towards cheaper alternatives which would make cigarettes more affordable and consumption would rise.”

In the recent public consultation, the government was faced with resounding opposition. Of 700,000 responses (most opinion polls project national public opinion on the basis of just a couple of thousand responses), half a million were opposed to plain packaging – and many of those are non-smokers. Respondents included representatives from retailers, wholesalers, politicians, trade unions, the Intellectual Property community and, crucially, the law enforcement community.

Jaine Chisholm Caunt, Secretary General of the TMA, argues “Plain packs would be far easier to copy, and would therefore be a gift to the criminal gangs behind the illegal trade in tobacco and increase the £3.1bn – £8.5m per day – that is currently lost to the UK Treasury as a result of this crime.

“These illegal traders do not care who they sell to, and frequently target children. The percentage of children who smoke in the UK is at an historic low – 5%. We feel the government should reduce this figure still further by tackling children’s access to tobacco, through greater investment in enforcement action and tougher penalties targeted at illegal tobacco gangs, and by making proxy purchasing of tobacco illegal, as it is for alcohol.”

Plain packaging could increase smoking, increase trade in illegal cigarettes and make access to tobacco easier for thos under the age of 18. At least there is a mandate for it, though, right? Wrong!

Once again, th government are nannying around without a mandate from the public – as none of the three main parties had plain packaging in their 2010 election manifesto. Indeed, in 2008, the Labour government actually rejected plain packaging on the grounds that there was insufficient evidence to support such a policy.

So what can you do to tell your MP you don’t want plain packaging? Well it’s all rather simple really.

Go to www.no2plainpacks.org, enter your postcode to find your MP, then at the bottom enter your name, email adddress and postal address then press “SUBMIT”. The letter is already typed for you, although you can add your own message to it too, if you wish.

Support common sense, oppose underage smoking and illegal tobacco and tell your MP Hands Off Our Packs!

Birmingham Mail letter: Saturday, 20 August 2011

Let’s have smoking rooms

I WRITE to congratulate Derek Rowlands (Letters, August 11) on his common sense.

I have argued for almost as long as the smoking ban has been in force that it is, along with high taxation on alcohol, damaging Britain’s pub trade and that the Government should review the way it is implemented.

For decades, pubs were seen as the place where you would meet friends and socialise with a pint and a cigarette, cigar or, as Mr Rowlands points out, a pipe.

Aside from socialising, what incentive is left for pub-goers? For almost the cost of a pint, you can get a four-pack from the supermarket and, when you want to smoke, you have to go and brave the elements to do so.

There should be no reason why anyone who does not wish to inhale second-hand smoke (including staff) should be forced to do so, but, similarly, upholding the ban as it stands simply makes many pubs unsustainable.

The law should be amended to allow for a separate, suitably ventilated room for people to smoke, drink and socialise to save at least some of those struggling pubs.

Alan W Collins, Balsall Heath