The menthol cigarette war becomes European.
Started in France, the investigations carried out by the Directorate General of Health (DGS) on the sale of these products, which have been banned since May 20, 2020, will continue in 27 member countries which are facing the same circumvention of the law.
According to our information, the French investigation has already identified more than 300 products suspected of containing prohibited flavors. While most manufacturers took the initiative to withdraw their controversial cigarette packs after the intervention of the DGS, a few are continuing to market them. In the end, the body identified four tobacco companies who would sell a total of a hundred illegal products. Who are they ? "This procedure, which involves an adversarial process, is in progress, and as a result, it is currently not possible to give specific details on the products and manufacturers concerned", indicates by email the DGS.
The latter will now be able to rely on European investigations and in particular on its advisory panel of independent experts.
These qualified persons will be responsible for qualifying the aromas contained in the products submitted for its analysis.
The tobacco companies contest to circumvent the texts
A decisive expertise.
Because if the law prohibits the reference of tobacco products containing a "characterizing" flavor, it does not chemically prohibit the presence of menthol.
However, these tobacco companies dispute that their aromas contained in their products are “characterizing” with regard to these texts.
Either way, this case is agitating the manufacturers. It must be said that before their ban, these menthol cigarettes represented 8% of tobacco sales in France. "And today, these new menthol products are already reaching 3.7% of the market, denounces British American Tobacco, world number two in tobacco. It is unfair competition. "
BAT, which owns brands such as Lucky Strike or Dunhill, thus affirms that one of its main competitors Japan Tobacco International, has already achieved 424 million euros in turnover in France thanks to these new products. “We were the leader in the mentholated cigarette market, we respected the rules and here is the result, annoys British American Tobacco. Provisional measures must be taken. The European procedure will take time. "
If the financial weight of this matter of taste is important, the stakes are above all medical. This ban on menthol cigarettes and more generally on cigarettes with “characterizing aromas” was taken by the European Union and implemented in the Member States to protect Europeans from tobacco and in particular the youngest. “Certain flavors, notably menthol, are used to facilitate the initiation of tobacco consumption, by concealing the naturally harsh taste of tobacco,” recalls the DGS. They could also have an impact on consumption habits. A 2019 Public Health France study identified tobacco consumption as the leading cause of preventable death in France, ahead of alcohol.