From today, Friday 20th May, the EU’s Tobacco Products Directive comes into force and changes the UK’s tobacco and e-cigarette laws in various ways.

Plain Pack 2
Courtesy of ASH in London

All cigarette and tobacco packs will be a drab green colour with 65% of the packs being covered in graphic health warnings. There’ll be no identifiable colours or logos, with only a standard font showing the brand’s name. There’s a one year grace period for retailers to sell through their current, branded stock.

Why? Young people are heavily influenced by what they see and how they want to be perceived. The tobacco industry openly acknowledges that packs are a form of communication to their customers.

  • Menthol flavoured cigarettes

Menthol cigarettes are being phased out to a complete ban by 2020.

Why? The mint additive, a favourite among young people, soothes the throat thus making smoking not seem as harsh as it actually is.

  • 10 packs of cigarettes and loose tobacco under 30g

These are no longer in production in the UK. As with plain packs, there is a one year grace period for retailers to sell through current stock.

Why? 10 packs of cigarettes and smaller than 30g loose tobacco packs are cheap – pocket money prices – therefore easier to access for young people as well as social smokers.

  • Lite, organic, natural

These misleading terms are now banned from use.

Why? Words such as ‘lite’ and ‘organic’ are deceptive as they have healthy connotations. Cigarette smoke contains around 4,000 chemicals - over 70 of which cause cancer - regardless of whether the cigarettes are called ‘lite’ or not.

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The ban on flavoured tobacco such as menthols doesn’t extend to shisha but plain packaging rules will still apply.

Why? Due to its niche market, flavoured shisha tobacco doesn’t sell in high enough volumes to merit being banned completely.

The advertising of e-cigarettes is now almost completely banned. E-liquid cannot be sold if the concentration of nicotine is over 20mg/ml (unless licensed) and must be in child-proof packaging.

Why? The e-cigarette market and its products have remained largely unregulated until now. The TPD seeks to create consistent standards across the EU by improving the quality of products and reduce the risk of accidents, particularly in relation to children accidently ingesting e-liquids.

  • TPD,
  • Tobacco Products Directive,
  • plain packaging,
  • standardised packaging,
  • law