The Bureau of Investigative Journalism & OCCRP report continuing confusion in Europe on levels of menthol in cigarettes since the 2020 ban, as tobacco companies promote new product ranges


The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, working with the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), reports that there is uncertainty and confusion in multiple European countries as to the level of menthol flavouring present in new cigarette brands launched around the time of the EU menthol ban. Despite having argued that their new products had no ‘characterising flavour’, Japan Tobacco International also said that there was no official testing method that could confirm this, according to research from the Bureau. OCCRP investigations found significant levels of menthol in JTI’s products.

Sweden was the first country to launch an official investigation into these products in 2020, with EU rules meaning other governments need to wait for the outcome before they can take any action in their own countries. According to the Bureau, UK health authorities said they were planning to begin testing products in October 2021.

In the meantime, while JTI has been able to promote its “menthol reimagined” range around Europe, British American Tobacco and Imperial Brands have complained about the delay investigating JTI’s products, including its menthol cigarillos. Cigarillos are exempt from restrictions covering cigarettes and tobacco, but  TCRG researchers have argued these new products are essentially  cigarettes wrapped in tobacco leaf. BAT and Imperial state that they comply with all the regulations, although some of their products are also under investigation.

Read the TobaccoTactics pages on flavoured and menthol tobacco, for more details on why menthol is so important to tobacco companies and their efforts to disrupt and prevent legislation in the UK and globally.

Read the Bureau and OCCRP articles here:

‘Impossible to enforce’: Big Tobacco exploiting loopholes in European menthol ban

Japan Tobacco International Making a Mint by Circumventing Menthol Cigarette Ban

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