These are the changes to tobacco laws that will start affecting smokers from this month

It's hoped they will reduce the number of smokers in Britain.


Smokers may already have noticed that buying small packs of cigarettes and tobacco has become quite difficult, but by the end of May there are more changes to come.

Here are the new rules on smoking that come into effect on May 20.

What has been banned?

A general view of a man smoking a cigarette
(Jonathan Brady/PA)

Last year it was announced that 10-packs of cigarettes and bags of tobacco containing less than 30g will be banned, and small packets have become rarer and rarer in the lead-up as old stock gets used up.

The change means that by May 21 the cheapest pack of cigarettes on sale will cost £8.82.

Menthol cigarettes are also being phased out, but have until May 2020 until they’re banned outright, while some flavoured cigarettes – including fruit, spice, herbs, alcohol, candy and vanilla – will also become illegal.

Cigarette packets will become completely standardised and use opaque couche, which is known as the “world’s ugliest colour” after Australian researchers were hired to find the least appealing advertising for their country’s plain packaging rules.

Why is this happening?

standardised packaging for tobacco

It’s hoped the changes will reduce the number of smokers, with smoking costing the NHS approximately £2 billion each year, according to Action on Smoking and Health (Ash).

Menthol cigarettes are regarded as more appealing to young people, with the flavour thought to make it easier to inhale for first-time smokers – and with two thirds of smokers starting before they turn 18, according to Cancer Research, this is aimed at reducing harm to young people.

Meanwhile the ban on smaller packets is expected to “hit poorer smokers harder”, Ash’s Amanda Sandford told the Liverpool Echo.

“Paying £3 or £4 for a packet of ten cigarettes at the moment might not seem so much to people and still leave them with change in their pockets.

“But when you have to spend £6/£7, even £9, people may think, ‘Do I really need this packet?’”

What about electronic cigarettes?

a man smoking an electronic cigarette
(Yui Mok/PA)

Products that contain over 20mg of nicotine per millilitre will now have to have a medicinal licence, while packs are now required to carry a health warning that covers 30% of its surface stating “this product contains nicotine which is a highly addictive substance”.

E-cigarette advertising will also be banned in newspapers, magazines and on the internet, television and radio from May 20 – while a size limit on e-liquids of 10ml for refill containers and 2ml for disposable cigarettes will also come into effect.

Has there been any resistance?

The tobacco industry challenged the Tobacco Products Directive, the new regulations which are being implemented, but was unsuccessful.

A ruling on the standardised packaging regulations is expected in the week before the rule changes come into place.



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