Irish Heart Foundation welcomes menthol cigarette ban

By June Shannon Policy News   |   20th May 2020

The Irish Heart Foundation has welcomed the ban on menthol flavoured cigarettes and tobacco, which takes effect from today.

From today, Wednesday 20th of May, the sale of all menthol flavoured tobacco and cigarettes will be prohibited. The purpose of the ban is to ensure that cigarette and tobacco products for sale can no longer include ingredients that would make smoking more palatable or make it easier for someone to start smoking by masking the taste of tobacco.

The prohibition is contained in the EU (Manufacture, Presentation and Sale of Tobacco and Related Products) Regulations 2016 made by the Minister in 2016. The Regulations transposed the 2014 EU Tobacco Products Directive into Irish law.

Dr Angie Brown, Medical Director, of The Irish Heart Foundation said the ban on the sale of menthol cigarettes and tobacco would contribute to reducing adolescents smoking levels in Ireland.

“There has been good research which demonstrates that young people are often introduced to smoking with menthol cigarettes as they find them less harsh and irritative to the throat due to the menthol and therefore more palatable. Unfortunately, that is a way they get introduced to regular smoking.

“There is also evidence that if you smoke menthol cigarettes it’s actually harder to quit so they are possibly even more addictive. Indeed, there is a pharmacological rational as it seems that menthol affects nicotine levels, it decreases the breakdown and affects the receptors in the brain so raising the levels of nicotine. So potentially they are actually more addictive. Of course, they have all the carcinogens that non-menthol cigarettes have so they still cause cardiovascular disease, lung cancer and emphysema and they are certainly not safer than non-menthol cigarettes.

“Furthermore, the cigarette companies have consistently targeted women with these products so we strongly feel that they should be banned and welcome the government’s decision to do so,” Dr Brown added.

" We strongly feel that they should be banned and welcome the government's decision to do so,"

Dr Angie Brown, Medical Director , The Irish Heart Foundation

Welcoming the ban the Minister for Health Simon Harris also urged smokers to quit during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Minister Harris said, “I welcome this ban. Smoking is an addictive and lethal habit. The pleasant taste of menthol masks the true taste of tobacco and might attract first time smokers or keep people smoking who might wish to quit.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has made it more important than ever to quit. On 11 May the World Health Organisation said that a review of studies by public health experts found that smokers are more likely to develop severe disease with COVID-19, compared to non-smokers.

“It also warned that tobacco is a major risk factor for non-communicable diseases and these conditions increase the risk of developing severe illness when affected by COVID-19. I urge everyone who is thinking about quitting to contact the HSE Quit service for support.”

For support and advice on quitting smoking call the National Smokers’ Quitline on Tel: 1800 201 203 or visit www.quit.ie

We are here for you

The Irish Heart Foundation’s nurse support line is available five days a week. Anyone living with heart disease and stroke who has concerns or questions about the coronavirus can contact the nurse support line on 01 668 5001 or support@irishheart.ie.

The Irish Heart Foundation’s new heart support group is on Facebook. Anyone who lives with heart failure or another heart condition or has a family member living with a heart condition can join here: www.facebook.com/groups/heartsupportnetwork/

The Irish Heart Foundation runs 21 stroke support groups and 5 heart failure groups around the country. All these groups have moved to telephone and online support. For more information, see https://irishheart.ie/get-support/.

The Irish Heart Foundation in conjunction with the HSE National Stroke Programme, has launched a new telephone support service for stroke patients who have recently been discharged from hospital. For more information, see here.

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