A TOBACCO firm has been blasted over its new range of Rizlas to get round the menthol cigarette ban which comes into effect this year.
Imperial Tobacco launched Rizla Flavour Infusions – ‘cards’ that can be used to add a menthol flavour to traditional tobacco products.
The cards are inserted into a packet of cigarettes or pouch of roll your own tobacco for at least 60 minutes to release a menthol flavour.
Retailers are due to start selling the individual packs, which come in two flavours – Menthol Chill and Fresh Mint – for 25p each from this month.
It comes ahead of new legislation banning the sale of all menthol cigarettes and flavoured tobacco from May 20.
Charity bosses have slammed the sale of new menthol card products to get round the ban as “shocking”.
Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) told The Sun Online: “Imperial Tobacco is trying to get around the ban by producing ‘Rizla infusions’ cards which can be inserted in cigarette packs or rolling tobacco to produce a menthol flavour.
“They are arguing that these are ‘accessories’ and therefore not classified as tobacco products for the purposes of these regulations.
It’s shocking that Imperial Tobacco plans to sell cards which can be inserted in packs to add menthol flavours to tobacco and get round the banDeborah ArnottASH
“It’s shocking that Imperial Tobacco plans to sell cards which can be inserted in packs to add menthol flavours to tobacco and get round the ban.
“We believe this breaks not just the spirit but the letter of the law and we’ve informed the Department of Health so they can stop it happening.”
She added: “Menthol in cigarettes makes it easier for children to try smoking and harder for smokers to quit, which is why ASH supports the ban.”
The ban is the last wave of regulation to be introduced as part of the EU Tobacco Product Directive designed to deter future generations from smoking.
A four-year phasing out period began in May 2016 and flavoured cigarettes have already been restricted to packs of 20.
In 2017, smaller packs of rolling tobacco were banned, as well as 10 packs of regular cigarettes.
But this last phase will see all menthol cigarettes outlawed, including flavoured tobacco, filters, papers, packages, capsules or other component containing flavourings.
The ban will also see the production of click dual cigarettes – such as Sterling Dual – that change from normal to menthol, stopped.
Deborah says the the new rules will mean that “no person may produce or supply cigarettes or hand rolling tobacco with:
(a) a filter, paper, package, capsule or other component containing flavourings;
(b) a filter, paper or capsule containing tobacco or nicotine; or
(c) a technical feature allowing the consumer to modify the smell, taste, or smoke intensity of the product.”
Menthol cigarettes are flavoured with compound menthol, a substance which triggers cold-sensitive nerves in the skin without actually providing a drop in temperature.