Is the cig finally up for smokers?

New taxation and legal changes provide ample reasons to kick the habit


If you’re still smoking you don’t need anyone to tell you that you shouldn’t be.

Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the past twenty years or more you’ll know just how damaging the habit can be to your health and the health of those around you.

But for those who think they just can’t give up (and you can) or have been putting off the moment when they grasp the nettle and do the right thing, there are changes coming in May which make it more sensible than ever.

Consider your pockets if you won’t consider your lungs.


How is the law changing on cigarettes and tobacco?

You will not be able to buy smaller packets of cigarettes.

Smaller bags containing less than 30g of roll up tobacco will also be taken off the counter.

By May 21, the cheapest packet of cigarettes will cost a whopping £8.82

Menthol cigarettes, which experts say have often been aimed at beginner smokers, are to be gradually phased out.

The new laws came into effect in May 2016, but shops and suppliers were allowed a year to adjust and sell off the old stock.

The bans will fully come into force from May 20 2017.

Menthol cigarettes are also being phased out and they will be gone completely by the year 2020.

Some flavoured cigarettes and roll-your-own tobacco, including fruit, spice, herbs, alcohol, candy or vanilla, will also be made illegal


A strategy targeted at the young

According to the charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), phasing out menthol cigarettes will deter younger people from smoking.

Amanda Sandford, of ASH, hopes the new rules will make smokers think twice about spending money on cigarettes when the price of a packet hits them hard in the pocket.

"Cigarettes are already expensive and the price increase of cigarettes is a key factor in making people quit smoking.

"So by removing the packet of ten cigarettes this means people will have to find that extra money for a packet. It will hit poorer smokers harder, who are usually younger smokers.

"Paying £3 or £4 for a packet of ten cigarettes at the moment might not seem so much to people and still leave them with change in their pockets.

"But when you have to spend £6/£7, even £9, people may think, 'Do I really need this packet?'”


Why has the packaging changed?

Ms Sandford said: "This is to make smoking less appealing. There is evidence that from the changes that have already been made to packaging that it has made people quit smoking.

"And that is because people are faced with very harsh health images every time they pick up a pack of cigarettes. All packaging will have a plain green background with a very dominant health warning image on them."

The brand name is written in a standard font, size and location and the new health warnings cover 60 per cent of the pack.

The ‘brands’ will disappear, one packet being indistinguishable from another, so will be less susceptible to any marketing effort by whatever means are left available to the tobacco companies.


Are menthol cigarettes better for your health than standard cigarettes?

The short answer is ‘no’, but they ‘feel’ softer on the throat and have an air of medication about them which is totally unfounded.

Ms Sandford said there is evidence to suggest that menthol cigarettes make it easier for people to smoke.

She said: "It is naturally hard to inhale smoke and for many the first time they smoke it is repugnant, but people persevere and that is when they become addicted.

"There is evidence that menthol cigarettes relax the airways and the flavour masks the harshness of the smoke, therefore younger people find it easier to smoke.

"However it is an absolute myth that menthol cigarettes are better for you. All cigarettes are harmful and menthol cigarettes are just as dangerous as normal cigarettes."


Does the new law affect e-cigarette flavours?

Ms Sandford said: "E-cigarettes are a different product and there are currently no plans in place to stop the different flavours that are available.

"People that use e-cigarettes are usually already smokers so if they are now using e-cigarettes that is much better for them.

"We know that they are not risk-free, however, and research is still going on into the long term effects of using them.

"Some flavours can be more problematic but it is not possible to say for sure at this time, which."


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