Fog of confusion around menthol ban, JTI survey reveals

Menthol ban 2020

A recent survey conducted by JTI has revealed considerable levels of retailer uncertainty ahead of the upcoming Menthol and Capsule cigarette ban that comes into force on 20 May.

The survey of over 350 retailers highlighted the need for further education and additional support for retailers on the specifics of the legislation. Key findings include:

  • 23% of those surveyed did not know that capsule cigarettes will be outlawed
  • A further 50% were not aware of the penalties they could incur for non-compliance
  • 34% incorrectly believed that mentholated smoking accessories will be banned
  • 24% did not know that there will be no sell through period
  • One in five believed that menthol e-liquids will be included in the ban
  • 57% think the ban will reduce footfall, whilst 77% were concerned it will have a negative impact on their business

Mark Yexley, JTI’s Communications Director, commented: “The Menthol and Capsule cigarette ban is one of the biggest changes the industry has faced in recent years, however we know from experience that the tobacco category is extremely resilient. We understand that retailers are concerned about the impact the ban will have on their business, but we are committed in supporting them to prepare for the changes ahead.”

In response to the findings, JTI has launched a dedicated microsite, which includes a host of practical information and an educational trade video to support retailers through the change. The website also contains a consumer facing page, which existing adult smokers can visit to find out more about the upcoming ban.

Retailers also gave their thoughts on what current menthol and capsule smokers might do after the ban: 25% believe smokers will remain brand loyal within the RMC category, 19% think they will switch to roll-your-own tobacco, 45% are certain their customers will switch to vaping or other reduced risk products, and 11% assume smokers will leave the category altogether.

JTI expects that the vast majority of adult smokers will remain brand loyal, with some switching to other alternatives based on their preference.

Yexley added: “We are continuing to innovate to ensure the needs of existing adult smokers are met. The Menthol and Capsule cigarette ban will also provide a big opportunity for a number of exciting new products – including our Sterling Dual Capsule Leaf Wrapped cigarillo, the Logic vaping range, plus the new tobacco-free nicotine pouch, Nordic Spirit. JTI will be on hand to help support its trade partners through the transition – we advise retailers to visit our new microsite to ensure they are fully prepared.”

For more information retailers can visit JTI’s new dedicated microsite. JTI’s sales representatives are also on hand to communicate the changes and answer any questions retailers may have in the lead up to 20 May and beyond.