Many smokers will be unaware of the upcoming ban on menthol cigarettes (including crush-ball cigarettes). With the date fast approaching we look at what the ban includes and how we can help you to still satisfy your cravings.
What is the menthol cigarette ban?
From the 20th May 2020, Menthol, crush-ball cigarettes and other flavoured tobacco will be banned from sale in the UK and EU. This means it will be illegal for shops to stock or sell those products due to the TRPR regulations that came into force on 20th May 2016. There is no additional sell-through period; that is, all these products will need to be removed from sale by the 20th May 2020.
The UK’s exit from the European Union will not impact the ban, which will still go ahead.
Retailers have been aware of the change for some time, but the consumer is still in the dark with those we asked being unaware of the Menthol cigarette ban.
What will still be available?
The ban does NOT apply to vaping products, these remain unaffected and will still be available to purchase. Menthol flavoured e-liquid, as well as other flavours, will still be permitted.
I’m a menthol cigarette smoker, what are my options after the ban?
Some people may use the ban as an opportunity to quit smoking altogether.
Vaping and the use of electronic cigarettes with nicotine-containing e-liquid has shown to be an effective way to quit smoking traditional cigarettes. 18% of smokers quit successfully with vaping compared to 10% with other nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) including patches, gum and medication. 1
Choosing vaping as a way to quit smoking is supported by the Royal College of Physicians and Public Health England and can be used alongside NRT.
Liberty Flights recently launched the DOT PRO Vape Kit which is the perfect tool to help you switch to vaping and for those who smoked menthol cigarettes, there is a variety of menthol flavours to choose from in the DOT PRO range as well as many more in our XO E-liquid range.
DOT PRO – The compact, stylish and easy to use pod device
The DOT PRO is a compact, stylish and easy to use vape device; simply place the prefilled pod into the battery and inhale like you would a cigarette. Once the pod is empty, simply pop in another pod of your flavour choice. It couldn’t be any easier!
The DOT PRO Pods contain nicotine salt, which is an advanced variation from nicotine traditionally found in e-liquids, this creates a smoother vape. DOT PRO Pods come in 20mg/ml strength which is perfect for those switching to vaping as it helps curb the cravings. Higher-strength, smoother nic salt e-liquid allows nicotine to be absorbed into the bloodstream in a way that is closer to the effects of a cigarette, but in a less damaging way.
The Menthol DOT PRO kit is Available for £12.99 and is perfect for those wanting to start their vaping journey.
There are 3.2 million vapers in the UK and 7.2 million smokers, almost 30% of whom have tried to quit in the past year. (ONS 2019).
Vaping is around 95% less harmful to health than smoking (Public Health England Evidence review 2019).
Nicotine vape products are highly regulated in the UK by MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency), giving customers confidence in their safety and quality.
Why not start your journey today with the help of Liberty Flights.
1 Hajek P, Phillips-Waller A, Przulj D, Pesola F, Myers Smith K, Bisal N, et al. E-cigarettes compared with nicotine replacement therapy within the UK Stop Smoking Services: the TEC RCT. Health Technol Assess 2019;23(43)
When oils are inhaled, they interrupt the transfer of oxygen from the lungs to the blood stream by accumulating on the lung lining. This has been known for many years and is called lipid pneumonia, the condition diagnosed in the vaping illness cases.
As a UK vaper you can be reassured that this tragic situation is not occurring in the UK because we have regulations and safeguards in place. The UK Government continues to support vaping and at Liberty Flights we are committed to continuing our high-quality products.
Liberty Flights e-liquid does not contain oils, and Lipid pneumonia cannot happen where there are no lipids/oils. Vaping regulated nicotine products from the UK continues to be an acceptable, reduced risk way of quitting smoking.
You cannot fail to have seen multiple headlines in the UK press, covering a number of tragic deaths and illnesses in the US as the result of vaping THC oils, we’ll explain what these are later on. What has happened is a new, sudden phenomena and is it vital to remember that there are no oils in regulated, UK manufactured Nicotine e-liquid. The reported injuries have been exclusively linked to oils and other chemicals being inhaled in THC products in the US.
The news of this terrible
situation has been widely reported and often misrepresented. Understandably
fear has taken hold and because the US Health bodies took their time to announce
the ingredients common to each case that had been identified as likely causes,
we’ve been faced with an incredible amount of misinformation.
It is again important to
emphasise that nicotine vape products in the UK are regulated and the industry
has much greater checks and oversight than the US. By linking the injuries and
deaths in the US to the regulated industry in the UK, vaping faces yet another
battle against poor reporting and deliberate misinformation, so it feels only
right to provide you with the facts and reassure you that vaping nicotine e-liquid
in the UK continues to be a 95% less harmful alternative to smoking.
The current situation in the US surrounding vaping deaths
The first reported illness related to a vape product was reported to and confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on 17th August 2019. This was followed by the first vaping death being reported on 23rd August 2019. The CDC issued advice to stop using all vaping products (regardless of their origin or contents) without giving further details or reassuring vapers who have used vaping exclusively to quit smoking. Over the next few weeks through September the number of cases and deaths increased and the US news reports got increasingly more scaremongering, and were soon picked up by the UK media.
Currently the CDC have
recorded almost 1300 lung injury cases, across 49 of 50 states in the US and 26
of the cases have resulted in death1. While the outbreak is being
investigated, they have now amended their advice from ‘don’t vape’ to warn specifically
against the use of THC containing products. This is because the data gathered
so far suggests THC containing products are a common component. Additionally,
THC products obtained off the street ‘play a major role’1.
Vaping in the UK
The vaping landscape in
the UK is very different to the US.
in the UK we have to follow strict regulatory2 guidelines that
ensure use of quality (pharmaceutical grade) ingredients and testing of those
ingredients, the results of which are then submitted to the UK regulatory
body, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA)3.
Products need to be notified 6 months before they can even reach the market.
The MRHA work hand in hand with Trading Standards and the vaping industry to maintain
compliance and keep products as high quality as possible.
the regulations specifically prohibit the use of certain chemicals including
those that are known to be carcinogenic, mutagenic (that can change genetic
material), or are considered a reproductive toxicant. Manufacturers must also
complete a toxicological risk assessment, which includes respiratory
considerations, and testing on the full composition of emissions from both the
e-liquid and vape devices.
Finally, any and all adverse health effects must be reported to the MHRA so they can be thoroughly investigated in a timely manner. This doesn’t just apply to manufacturers and retailers who are legal required to report adverse health effects; member of the public and health professionals may also alert the MHRA, without including the manufacturer, to any products using the Yellow Card Scheme4.
a result of the acceptance of vaping as a reduced risk product within the UK, overall smoking rates are dropping, in
every demographic, in a manner never seen before. This includes youth smoking
rates which continue to drop, and evidence shows that teens are not turning to
vaping when they are not current or ex-smokers.
As has been said many times, vaping is an
exit from smoking, not a path to it.
A recent report from Action on Smoking and Health UK5
stated the following:
“Regular use remains rare in never smokers. Regular use
of e-cigarettes remains largely confined to current or ex-smokers. The
overwhelming majority, 93.8% in total, of 11-18 year olds who have never smoked
have either never used an e-cigarette (87.8%) or are not aware of them (6.0%).”
The UK population are therefore benefiting from a huge public health gain by embracing vaping, with no cost to the public purse. On top of this, the money that vapers save by switching to vaping is helping to rebalance inequalities faced by the lowest socioeconomic groups who are disproportionately disadvantaged by high taxation on tobacco cigarettes.
Oils and Lung
To give a deeper understanding of why there have been
fatalities and lung injuries in the US, we need to look at what happens when
you inhale oils and why it is so damaging.
An oil is a term for a family of chemicals, that are
typically made of large molecules (such as a fat or wax) that do not mix with
water but do mix with other oils. Lipid is a term for fatty acids, a type of
It has been known for many years that when lipids are
inhaled, they cause an illness called lipid pneumonia. Due to the fact lipids
do not dissolve in water, they are unable to be absorbed by the fluid lining of
the lungs and are seen by the body as toxic. By gathering on the fluid lining,
lipids inhibit the transfer of oxygen from the lungs into the blood stream.
Ultimately this can cause serious damage, not only to the lungs, but to other
internal organs as they are starved of oxygen and left unable to function.
So why are THC products and not nicotine products,
leading to this condition? The answer is very simple, nicotine will dissolve in
water so nicotine e-liquids can be water or alcohol based. THC is found in the cannabis
plant, which contains naturally occurring oils and waxes which remain in the
product. Because the extract is oily, it needs to be diluted with oils so that
is dissolves and can be vapourised.
What else is in
Firstly, lets touch on what THC is and why people want to
inhale it. THC stands for tetrahydrocannabinol, and it’s the psychoactive
chemical in cannabis, i.e. the chemical that gets you high. As described above,
it is smoked as a dried leaf, or extracted from the plant to be inhaled or
eaten amongst other things. People have used cannabis for generations, both
recreationally and for certain health conditions where it is though to help
such as pain management. It is often surprising to find, that despite their
overly cautious approach to vaping, the US have a much more open view of
cannabis use and this has resulted in relatively light touch regulation
compared to the UK. In some states, cannabis is legal to buy and use
recreationally, in others is can only be used medicinally under licence and in
the rest, it is still illegal.
Aside from THC and plant extract, there are some other
common ingredients in THC vape cartridges. The presence of cannabis leads to
other contaminates such as pesticides and lead which are left from when the
plant was grown. This has been widely reported and is summed up in the excerpt
from an article in metrotimes.com below.7
“As many as 50 million cannabis cartridges are tainted
with lead, pesticides, vitamin E acetate, or residual solvent butane.”
One substance that is widely
quoted including above, as being involved is vitamin E (or vitamin E acetate).
Vitamin E oil first appeared in vape cartridges on the illicit cannabis market
in Los Angeles near the end of 2018 in a product called Honey Cut.8
Honey Cut proved so popular as a THC oil cutting agent that dozens of knockoff
versions appeared in early 2019 and soon began to appear in street-market vape
cartridges nationwide. A cutting agent is an ingredient used to bulk out the
mix, so you get more product with the same amount of cannabis. You may have
heard of vitamin E before as it is commonly used in cosmetics but the key
difference is that while safe to apply to the skin, it has not been approved
for use in inhalation products.
Vitamin E is a common name for a family of oils that can be made from hydroquinone, a controversial compound sold in the United States as a topical skin lightening agent. It’s used to get rid of dark spots or discolorations. The European Union has banned hydroquinone because of its potential carcinogenic effects. Inhaling residual hydroquinone aerosol from a cheap vitamin E oil would be very dangerous.
Why has the emphasis been on
vaping in general?
This comes down to a question of semantics. The term vaping comes
from the word vapourise, which means to convert a liquid to a vapour. So
because the THC cartridges are being heated and the contents turned to vapour,
using the term vaping is not incorrect. BUT vaping is the delivery method only.
Consider another example, you would not warn people against eating because they
got food poisoning, you would warn them against eating that particular source
of food again. It is the contaminated food that has caused the illness, not
eating. So what you vape is key, not vaping itself.
Sadly, this lack of clarity works for some
campaign groups in the US as there are competing agendas when it comes to
nicotine vape products, their public health gain, regulation and/or
prohibition. This is a whole article in itself so we won’t cover it here, there
are plenty out there already if you are interested.
For the UK, this leaves us continuing to correct articles where
the specific cause has not been made clear, because the power of language will
always be used to make headlines that sell.
What does all this mean for
Hopefully after reading this article you are clearer on the facts
behind the headlines. But it is worth saying again, that as a UK vaper you can
be reassured, as we said at the start of the article, that this tragic
situation isn’t happening here because we have the right regulations and
safeguards in place. The UK Government continue to support vaping and here at
Liberty Flights, we are focused on maintaining our high-quality products, by
following the rules to the letter and going above and beyond so we can take pride
in our products.
“The UK is a vanguard of the vaping world and
should be proud of what we’ve done in the wider industry as a whole. It is
often levelled at me that my commercial interest in vaping makes me bias, but I
genuinely feel it is the public health benefit that is most important. It’s the
reason I started Liberty Flights over 10 years ago. People need to have the
facts so they can have confidence in switching and make an informed decision.
The propagation of misinformation causes direct harm to those it prevents from
trying a reduced risk product”
Matthew Moden, Managing Director of Liberty
We must all remember that the point of vaping is to stop smoking,
and there is never a time when it is better to smoke than to vape. This has
been repeated over and over again by Public Health England whose independent
review of evidence found vaping to be ‘at least 95% less harmful to health than
smoking’9 and have included vaping in their Stoptober campaign since
2018. Several leading experts have also come out to re-confirm this view and
challenge the messaging that is coming from the US.10
Despite the different approaches on each side of the Atlantic, the
science about vaping nicotine does not change just because you are on another
A final word
re-iterate: Liberty Flights e-liquid does not contain oils. It’s important to remember that Lipid
pneumonia is not a new condition, (though this may be the first time you have heard
of it). It is solely the result of lipids contaminating the lungs and affecting
their ability to provide oxygen to your body. Lipid pneumonia cannot happen
where there are no lipids/oils, so to link the condition exclusively to vaping
products is a falsehood.
Vaping regulated nicotine products from the UK is an acceptable,
reduced risk way of quitting smoking. If you have quit smoking with vaping,
don’t go back, 1 in 2 smokers will die from a smoking related disease.11