A new European Union Tobacco Product Directive law, which comes into play on May 20, will see menthol cigarettes banned in Ireland.

The EU Tobacco Product Directive laws mean products for sale can no longer include ingredients that would make smoking more palatable by masking the taste of tobacco. This law has been planned for a number of years.

Ireland's Minister for Health, Simon Harris issued a statement saying:

“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.

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“The COVID-19 pandemic has made it more important than ever to quit. On 11 May the World Health Organization 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.”

The Royal College of Physicians of Ireland's Policy Group on Tobacco similarly welcomed the ban.

Professor Des Cox, the Chair of the group, said there is a "misperception" that menthol cigarettes are less harmful than regular cigarettes.

He said there is "sufficient evidence that menthol cigarettes are just as harmful and are associated with increased nicotine dependence and lower quit rates".

Dr Cox, speaking to RTE, said the ban "will likely result in fewer children taking up smoking".

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