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UK brings tobacco regulations into full force.

Editorial Staff

It's a year since the EU's Tobacco Products Directive came into force in the UK but its full effects were not required until a grace period to allow a run-out of stocks in the distribution pipeline. So as from now, the way products are marketed and, even, produced.

For example, it is now illegal to sell cigarettes in packets of quantities small than 20. Packets must meet certain minimum dimensions (so preventing, at least overtly, the selling of "short" cigarettes. So-called "characterising flavours" must not be added in cigarettes or roll-your-own tobacco, which has long been the case in the USA (since 2009, in fact). Facts are hard to find but it seems that the only flavours permitted are tobacco (of which there are many varieties with distinct flavours) and menthol.

Flavoured cigarettes are very common outside the EU and the USA with e.g. flowers such as rose and berries being favoured.

Countries within the EU are also able to ban the import of cigarettes and rolling tobacco purchased over the internet, if they choose. So far, the UK has not done so but there are a number of regulatory hurdles, including the packaging, to be overcome in order to sell into the UK. Duty free goods bought while outside the UK (and, by extension outside the EU) are not subject to the restrictions, if bought for personal use.

The most obvious change is the homogenised packaging: a drab olive colour with a large, graphic health warning and the brand and short information in a standardised type face.

There has, naturally, been a significant challenge to the decisions but these have come to nothing. Recent figures from the UK Government say that so-called plain packaging (it isn't plain at all so this is a silly name) is expected to reduce the number of smokers in the UK by 300,000 in the first year. This is a small percentage of the UK's total smokers of an estimated 17% of the population.

That 17% is a surprising figure given how difficult it is to find somewhere to smoke in the UK.

Details: https://www.gov.uk/government/...