The EU’s menthol tobacco ban comes into force on May 20th 2020 so what are the alternatives for smokers desperate to get their minty nicotine fix?
The menthol ban doesn’t apply to vapes – pod kits and menthol flavoured e-liquids are the first things that jumps to mind, and I’ll look at that option in more detail in a moment.
But first how did we get here and why has the European Union decided to ban all menthol tobacco products?
I’m pretty sure most of you know the reason and if you said:
…to protect the children…
You are of course right – the powers that be decided back in 2016 that kids were more likely to begin smoking by using menthol flavoured lit tobacco.
This grand ban plan was part of the original TPD – the infamous Tobacco Products Directive – and we’re now just a couple of weeks away from seeing that part of the legislation coming into force.
Menthol Flavoured Tobacco Ban – What Products Are Banned?
Shopkeepers have been told they must sell all menthol lit tobacco stocks or remove products from shelves before the deadline or face huge fines.
The definition of a menthol flavoured tobacco product is very clear and includes those so called ‘crush cigarettes’:
- a filter, paper, package, capsule or other component containing flavourings;
- a filter, paper or capsule containing tobacco or nicotine; or
- a technical feature allowing the consumer to modify the smell, taste, or smoke intensity of the product.
Big Tobacco companies have been working on ‘work arounds’ to the ban.
For instance rolling tobacco paper manufacturer Rizla has produced a cardboard ‘insert’ to push into the filter of a lit cigarette.
As to if these type of things will be legally allowed to be sold is doubtful – though knowing the internet there’s sure to be something similar sold somewhere!
And of course, these type of things will still keep you smoking with all the harm to health that brings…
Speaking of Big Tobacco. Phillip Morris Inc and British American Tobacco had appealed against the ban suggesting it would ‘significantly harm’ it’s business.
Back in 2016 the European Court of Justice denied the appeal saying:
The new EU directive on tobacco products is valid.
The extensive standardisation of packaging, the future EU-wide prohibition on menthol cigarettes and the special rules for electronic cigarettes are lawful.
The government of Poland also had an appeal rejected by the same court.
With well over 1 billion smokers in the world and with around 24% of them using menthol flavoured tobacco – you can see Big Tobacco’s profits are going to take a real hit just from loss of sales from Europe and the UK.
Menthol Flavoured Tobacco Ban – What Are the Alternatives?
I said at the beginning, e-cigarettes and pod kits using good quality menthol or mint flavoured e-liquids is the obvious choice.
There’s also tobacco free SNUS and I recently reviewed the ZYN Nicotine Pouches which I found an excellent way to get your daily fix – the cool mint flavour was very tasty and definitely a refreshing but not overpowering fresh menthol hit.
But SNUS isn’t for everyone – especially those smokers missing the throat hit and the rituals around smoking – and that’s where vaping on menthol flavoured e-liquids will come in.
If you’re ready to make a quit attempt on the back of the menthol flavoured tobacco ban – going cold turkey is of course an option – but studies show the success rates are extremely low.
Doctors might want to prescribe so called stop smoking drugs – but be VERY aware these can have devastating side-effects to both your physical and mental health – suicidal thoughts are one such threat – yes really…
So let’s look at the obvious and most succesful way to switch from menthol flavoured tobacco to e-cigarettes.
Switching To Menthol Flavoured E-cigarettes
Truth be told vaping has been firmly in the public domain for over a decade and is now considered by a growing number of scientific bodies to be 95% safer than smoking – despite what you see in the press!
Millions of smokers have successfully made the switch from smoking to vaping and if you’re affected by the menthol ban – then you really should consider this route – it quite simply works with little if any impact on your health.
In fact, the longest study ever carried out into e-cigarettes and public health and using NEVER smokers concluded:
…we found no decrements in spirometric indices, development of respiratory symptoms, changes in markers of lung inflammation in exhaled air or findings of early lung damage on HRCT, when compared with a carefully matched group of never-smoking non-EC users.
Even the heaviest EC users failed to exhibit any evidence of emerging lung injury as reflected in these physiologic, clinical or inflammatory measures. Moreover, no changes were noted in blood pressure or heart rate.
Since the EC users who we studied were never smokers, potential confounding by inhalation of combustion products of tobacco were obviated.
In other words – the heart is not affected and if anything lung capacity improves significantly when making the switch!
So the science proves the point vaping is considerably safer than smoking so what are the best ways to make the switch to menthol flavoured e-cigarettes?
Nicotine Strength In E-liquids
Flavour is of course important and I’ll link to some of the best menthol flavoured e-liquids in a moment.
It’s the strength of the nicotine inside the e-liquid that’s crucial to a successful switch.
Here in the UK and EU, thanks to the TPD we have a cap of 20mg nicotine.
Generally most e-liquids come in: 0mg [add your own nicotine] – 3mg – 6mg – 12mg – 18mg and 20mg.
As a simple rule of thumb, the more you have smoked the higher nicotine level you’ll require.
However, such is the advancement of the science behind e-liquids, we now have nicotine salts.
Nope, they’re not salty – it’s just a name for the extraction method used to extract the nicotine.
This type of juice allows a higher level of nicotine without the harshness some higher levels can give.
Please seek advice from your local vape shop [when they re-open] or pop a question in the comments below if you need more info.
- Beginners Guide To E-Liquids / Vape Juice
- What’s Really in Your E-liquid? | Ingredients & Myths Surrounding Vape Juice
- 5 Best Salt Nic Vape Juice + Guide To Nicotine Salt E-Liquid
- Is Nicotine Dangerous? | How Safe is Vaping Nicotine?
Menthol Flavoured Tobacco Ban – Are Pod Kits A Good Choice?
Pod kits are the easiest and simplest way to get into vaping without a doubt.
However, and just like e-liquid – the sheer number of pod kits out there is enough to make even the most experienced vapers’ head spin!
Apart from the amount of brands out there – there’s a couple of things you need to keep in mind – and tick off your required list when shopping.
As a smoker making the switch here’s a couple of things to look out for from the pod kit you’re thinking of buying:
- Does it have a tight draw
- Throat hit
- Is it re-fillable or are the pods sealed
- Choice of menthol flavoured e-liquid
- Are the pods and coils readily available
- Is it actually any good or fit for purpose
- Take into account the overall cost
OK, let’s break this down.
Menthol Flavoured Tobacco Ban – You Probably Need A Tight Draw
Vaping is split into two categories – Mouth To Lung and Direct To Lung.
The tighter the draw on a pod kit [or any MTL vape tank come to that] the more it replicates the act of inhaling a lit cigarette.
The MTL option is the one you need – in general if the pod kit is tight to inhale, the more likely a smoker will not notice much if any difference than from smoking a lit cigarette.
So make sure the pod kit you’re choosing has a good MTL draw!
A Good Throat Hit
Every smoker knows what this is – and pretty much every vaper remembers it.
One of the pleasures of taking a hit from a lit cigarette is that whack at the back of your throat.
Whilst in pod kits this can be down to the type of coil used – it’s always good to look for a review of a product that offers ‘a good throat hit’.
Sealed Or Pre-Filled Pod Kits?
Pre-filled pod kits are certainly simpler and more convenient but limit the flavours you can try and work out to be quite expensive.
It’s generally these types you see in supermarkets, garages and corner shops and most are quite frankly not up to much.
Take the ubiquitous JUUL pod kit for instance.
And yes the company has just brought out a menthol flavoured pod here in the UK – clever!
Read my review to see what I thought about this ‘popular’ pod kit: JUUL Review – Is This Pod System Worth All the Fuss?
I’ve also compared it to other pod kits on the market: JUUL Duel: Are There Better Alternatives to the JUUL Pod Mod?
For me and for your wallet and choice – the re-fillable pod kits are the way to go – meaning you’re free to put in whatever e-liquid you wish and are not tied to one brand.
I’d also add here it’s best to check the coils and empty pods are also readily available too – nothing worse than buying a kit you can’t use once you run out!
What Menthol Flavoured E-liquid To Choose?
Just like pod kits there are literally millions of gallons of menthol and mint flavoured e-liquids out there.
I’ve chosen x4 of my all time favourites in this vape guide: 4 Best Menthol Vape Juice – Tastiest E-Liquids You Can Find.
That’s just four of the most popular menthol flavoured e-liquids out there and ones I really do recommend.
It really is best to look at reviews of menthol flavoured e-liquids before you buy and if possible try before you buy!
Also don’t just stick to tobacco/menthol flavours and check out the different levels of mint and menthol.
If they suggest ‘brain freeze’ then that’s a sure fire sign this one is Cccold!
Live a little and experiment with fruity menthols too – you might be very surprised how good they taste!
Is the Pod Kit You’ve Chosen Any Good!
Seems like a daft thing to say – but I wonder how many smokers have impulse bough a set-up they’ve seen in the corner shop or garage…got it home and got a leaky piece of shite that fills their mouth with sickly e-liquid!
Do your research first!
There are some shockingly bad pod kits out there and some pretty good ones – so research and choose wisely!
We have a guide here to help you choose: 9 Best Pod System Vapes 2020 – Simple, Compact Vape Pods
Menthol Flavoured Tobacco Ban – Final Thoughts
If you’re a menthol tobacco flavoured smoker, now is the perfect time to make the switch to e-cigarettes.
Vaping is the closest you’ll ever get to replicating a lit cigarette, and with such a vast choice of menthol flavoured e-liquids on the market, you really do have more chances of quitting than ever before.
We could debate the why’s the what’s and the wherefores on if this ban should ever have been brought in – but the fact remains the menthol flavoured tobacco ban is coming and coming very soon.
So, instead of simply switching to plain tobacco lit cigarettes – make the switch today – it could save your life and will most definitely save you money.
If you have any questions no matter how silly you might think they are – please ask away in the comments below.
If you are making the switch – good luck – you got this 😉