Behind ZYN

Why Have Menthol Cigarettes Been Banned in the UK?

Close up of Zyn Nicotine pouches

On Wednesday 20th May 2020, the menthol cigarettes ban came into effect in the UK. The ban forms part of the English Government’s ‘Smokefree 2030’ roadmap, which aims to see the number of smokers in England drop below five percent of the population by 2030.

In this article, we explore why menthol cigarettes have been banned, the impact the ban has had, what the ban aims to achieve, and how ZYN nicotine pouches offer a flavoured hit of nicotine that works as an alternative to menthol cigarettes.

Why are menthol cigarettes banned?

The ban was originally issued by the EU to discourage young people from taking up smoking and encourage current smokers to quit.

While the Smokefree 2030 campaign hopes to reduce the number of smokers in England, the menthol cigarettes ban has been applied across the whole of the UK – England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.

In 2015, a report by the Department of Health found these reasons for banning menthol cigarettes in the UK:

  • Younger, newer smokers were more likely to use menthol cigarettes.
  • There’s an increased risk of becoming nicotine dependent for those who start smoking menthol cigarettes compared to those who start with non-menthol cigarettes.
  • Smoking menthol cigarettes is linked to higher levels of nicotine dependence, as the menthol taste makes it easier to inhale the smoke.
  • People are more likely to experiment with menthol cigarettes than regular cigarettes.
  • The average number of cigarettes smoked by menthol smokers was greater than non-menthol smokers. These menthol smokers also had greater odds of continuing to smoke.
  • Some younger people perceived menthol cigarettes to be less harmful than normal cigarettes.1

The menthol cigarettes ban in the UK was implemented to deter young people from experimenting with smoking and discourage those who smoked menthol cigarettes from continuing to smoke.

Menthol cigarettes represented 21% of UK cigarette sales prior to the ban and 17.5% of menthol smokers in England said they would quit following the ban in May 2020.2

Has the ban on menthol cigarettes worked?

While it’s now harder to get menthol cigarettes, tobacco companies have exploited loopholes in the law to sell ‘reimagined’ menthol products. Some have started selling cigarettes with holes in the filter that allow menthol filter tips to be slotted in, while others have begun selling cigarillos with flavour capsules.3

Although these newer menthol products are technically legal, they still promote the use of burning tobacco to deliver nicotine to the user. This is highly dangerous and poses a number of significant health risks to the smoker and people inhaling second-hand smoke.

ZYN Cool Mint nicotine pouches – an alternative to menthol cigarettes

Looking for alternatives to menthol cigarettes? ZYN nicotine pouches offer a tobacco-free nicotine hit that doesn’t involve inhaling smoke or vapour. These nicotine pouches are also available in a number of flavours, including our most popular flavour, Cool Mint, which provides a cooling menthol taste.

ZYN nicotine pouches are also available in:

  • Citrus – featuring hints of lemongrass, orange and sunny citrus
  • Spearmint – a classically sweet, cool and refreshing taste
  • Espressino – notes of freshly ground coffee, chocolate, nougat, and vanilla
  • Bellini – inspired by the Italian cocktail, the classic peach flavour is lifted by notes of fruit tea and green grapes

ZYN nicotine pouches are available in four strengths, mellow, regular, strong, and extra strong, so you can match the intensity of nicotine with your current preferences.

How to use ZYN nicotine pouches

Using ZYN nicotine pouches is easy. Pop a pouch between your upper lip and teeth, then leave for 5 to 60 minutes to enjoy a hit of nicotine that acts as an alternative to menthol cigarettes, and won’t leave your clothes or breath smelling of smoke.

New to ZYN? Try a full-sized can worth £6.50 for free here.

What is nicotine? Explore the history of nicotine and understand how it affects our bodies below.

What is Nicotine?



1 ASH – ‘Media Advisory: Ban on menthol flavoured cigarettes comes into force on 20 May 2020’

2,3 Tobacco Control – ‘Menthol: Tobacco Companies are exploiting loopholes in the UK’s characterising flavours ban’



Writer and expert