A third of UK menthol smokers likely to switch to a new alternative after ban on menthol cigarettes

  • One third likely to switch to an alternative such as vaping or heated tobacco
  • Consumers likely to purchase new alternatives from multiple channels including vape specialists (51%), supermarkets (46%) and online retailers (43%)
  • A quarter remain unaware of impending ban coming into force on 20th May 

A third of all menthol smokers are likely to switch to a new alternative following the ban on menthol cigarettes, new research by Populus, commissioned by Philip Morris Limited (PML), can reveal.

Over 500 menthol smokers took part in the research which asked a series of questions to gauge how they are likely to respond after the ban comes into force on 20th May 2020.

When asked what action they would take after the ban, a third of respondents indicated that it was ‘likely’ they would switch to an alternative, like menthol heated tobacco products or menthol flavoured vapes1 – both unaffected by the ban. This would mean roughly 420,000 smokers switching overnight, signalling the biggest increase in smokers switching to alternatives since 2015.2

Of the smokers likely to try a new menthol alternative, over half (51%) are likely to purchase these from vape specialists.3 Many respondents are also likely to make their purchases from supermarkets (46%) and online retailers (43%).4 Just under a third (32%) indicated that they would purchase an alternative at a local independent retailer.5

The Populus research also found that over a quarter (26%) remained unaware of the impending ban.6 Of those aware, the majority (41%) were informed of the ban by a friend or relative and only 22% were made aware when visiting a shop.7

Kate O’Dowd, Head of Field Force at Philip Morris Limited, said: “The ban on menthol cigarettes is a significant moment for many retailers with thousands of menthol smokers looking to switch to a better alternative if they’re unable to quit cigarettes altogether.

“To meet demand, retailers must be ready to offer their customers a wide range of alternatives, including menthol flavoured vapes and menthol heated tobacco products, which are unaffected by the ban.”

Retailers can continue to register to become IQOS Menthol Kit Stockists and sign up to the Philip Morris Buy-Back system via its Retailer Hub website [menthol-ban-retail.co.uk] if they are not already a member of our HEETWAVE OPEN Platform.