May 14, 2020
by Forest EU

Imminent menthol ban is “at odds with people’s freedom” say European smokers

Smokers’ campaign group received testimonials about what Europeans thought of the menthol ban.

Brussels, Thursday 14th May 2020 – Smokers from across Europe described the imminent ban on menthol cigarettes, which comes into force in every EU member state from 20th May 2020, as “useless” and “at odds with people’s freedom”.

The smokers’ campaign group Forest EU received testimonials about what Europeans thought of the menthol ban:

Patricia from Denmark asked:

“Why can’t I decide for myself whether or not to smoke cigarettes with menthol?”

Angelika from the Netherlands shared:

“I don’t smoke menthols. But nowadays you are not allowed to determine anything yourself.”

Victoria from Poland said:

“Of course, it is good that the EU is concerned about our health, but banning menthol cigarettes is at odds with people’s freedom. Also, it is likely that this measure will create an illegal trade, bringing menthol cigarettes from neighbouring countries such as Ukraine.”

Other testimonials can be read on Forest EU’s website:

Guillaume Périgois, director of Forest EU, said:

“This isn’t another restriction. Banning an entire category of cigarette is prohibition.

“Banning menthol cigarettes will do little to deter children from smoking and will almost certainly fuel an uncontrolled black market in menthol tobacco products.”

The enactment of the ban on 20th May 2020 follows the completion of a four-year phasing-out period under the EU-level Tobacco Products Directive which became applicable in 2016.

Why it’s important: Menthol cigarettes are consumed by approximately 7 million EU adults:

  • In 2017, 8% of EU monthly smokers said they used menthol flavoured tobacco. Menthol tobacco users represented 24% of monthly smokers in Finland, 20% in Denmark, 16% in the Netherlands and Lithuania, 15% in Estonia and Latvia, and 14% in Belgium, according to Eurobarometer.
  • Menthol tobacco generates an estimate of €10 billion in sales across the continent, according to Euromonitor.


Further comments:

Forest EU

Guillaume Périgois
+32 4 78 98 07 43

Note to editors:

  • Forest EU is a campaign informing smokers about the issues that affect them in the European Union and engaging with stakeholders so the views of informed adults with an interest in tobacco policy are considered within the EU’s decision-making process.
  • Forest EU has an independent organizational structure and advocates for the consumer, not the tobacco industry. Forest EU accepts there are serious health risks associated with smoking tobacco and does not, through its campaigning activities, seek to promote or encourage it.
  • For more information, visit

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