Menthol bans bolster the global fight against smoking

Menthol cigarette bans are helping make the phrase smoke ’em if you got ’em obsolete. 

Driving the news: A new study on the effects of menthol cigarette bans in Canada, several U.S. states, and certain EU countries found that 24% of menthol smokers quit smoking entirely within two years of a ban, with national menthol bans being even more effective.

  • In 2015, Canadian provinces began banning menthols. By 2018, they were banned nationwide.

  • In case you didn’t go through a rebellious phase in school, menthol is a flavoured additive used in some cigs, which can make them more appealing and addictive

Why it matters: Smoking rates have cratered since the 1990s, but there’s still more to be done. As of last year, only four countries had enacted all of the World Health Organization’s recommended anti-smoking measures, like advertising bans and raising tobacco taxes. Many countries also have their own unique plans. 

  • The U.K. wants to ban tobacco sales to anyone born on or after January 1, 2009. However, New Zealand, the first country to implement such a plan, just scrapped it.
  • France is moving to make its unofficial national pastime less attractive by banning smoking on beaches, near schools, and in public parks starting this year.
  • Japan has seen cigarette smoking drop rapidly as smokers adopt heated tobacco products, which don’t burn tobacco, just warm it up — though the efficacy of these products has been heavily scrutinized.   

Bottom line: It might look cool when James Dean does it, but smoking directly kills ~7 million people globally every year, including ~48,000 in Canada. Any plans that can successfully reduce smoking will save both lives and untold dollars for global GDPs.—QH