The tobacco firm that is still making a mint from menthol cigarettes: Bosses are accused of sidestepping ban aimed at stopping children smoking
- Mint flavour menthol cigarettes were banned in Britain just last Wednesday
- But the UK’s best-selling tobacco company put out product range on same day
- The new cigarettes are being advertised under the slogan ‘menthol re-imagined’
- Campaigners last night called for the Government to outlaw the new brands too
The UK’s best-selling tobacco company was yesterday accused of sidestepping a ban on the sale of menthol cigarettes aimed at stopping children smoking.
Japan Tobacco International, which makes Benson and Hedges and Sterling, has replaced several of its brands with an almost identically named and marketed new range.
They are being advertised under the slogan ‘menthol reimagined’ and customers claim they taste ‘fully menthol’.
A handbook in association with the firm called ‘making a mint’ has been given to sellers. It is subtitled ‘Everything you need to know to successfully navigate the menthol ban’ [File photo]
Documents leaked to the Daily Mail show retailers have been told how to continue ‘making a mint’ from the £3.6billion-a-year UK market and boost sales after the ban.
Mint-flavoured cigarettes, which make up around one in four sales, were banned in Britain last Wednesday amid concerns they were luring young people. JTI launched its new range on the same day. Campaigners last night called for the Government to outlaw the new brands as well.
Tory MP Bob Blackman, chairman of the all party parliamentary group on smoking and health, said: ‘They are cynically trying to circumvent a very sensible ban on cigarettes which are intended to make you quickly addicted to nicotine and a customer for life.
‘There are literally thousands of young people who get addicted to nicotine through menthol cigarettes. That was the point of the ban. This shows you can’t trust big tobacco.’
Mint-flavoured cigarettes, which make up around one in four sales, were banned in Britain last Wednesday amid concerns they were luring young people [File photo]
Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health, added: ‘The industry has obeyed the letter of the law while in no way, shape or form following its spirit.’
Advertising in mainstream media is forbidden and JTI is urging retailers to promote its new range.
A handbook in association with the firm called ‘making a mint’ has been given to sellers.
It is subtitled ‘Everything you need to know to successfully navigate the menthol ban’.
It says: ‘The legislation makes is very difficult for manufacturers to communicate directly with existing adult smokers.
‘Retailers should ensure staff are aware of the alternative options on offer so they are able to inform them.’
It added that there were ‘a raft of distinctive new blends and unique taste alternatives’.
JTI communications director Mark Yexley has called the new law a ‘fresh opportunity’.
Japan Tobacco International, which makes Benson and Hedges and Sterling, has replaced several of its brands with an almost identically named and marketed new range [File photo]
The legislation is part of the Government’s drive for a smoke-free society by 2030.
But a survey commissioned by smokers’ group Forest found 39 per cent of smokers are oblivious to the new regulations.
Customer Ellie Rylance posted on Twitter the day of the ban: ‘For anyone who thinks menthols have gone forever, they’re not.
‘Sterling New Dual and B&H New Dual are a ‘special blend’ to get round the law but they’re menthol.’
Another wrote: ‘I went to the shop today and they said they got in ‘Sterling New Dual’. They didn’t know if they were menthol. I bought them and they’re fully menthol.’
A JTI UK spokesman said: ‘JTI UK no longer sells menthol flavoured cigarettes, including capsule products.
‘We are confident that all of our products are fully compliant with UK law.’
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