What smokers need to know about the new EU anti-smoking laws

Jasmine Andersson
Smoking ban

In a matter of weeks, new smoking laws will be coming into action in the UK, including a ban on the sale of 10 packs of cigarettes, with the cheapest pack setting a smoker back £8.82 ($10.94).

The EU laws, which are coming into place on 21 May, will affect shops and smokers alike across the UK and Europe in a bid to reduce the number of smokers and "beginner" smokers in the UK and the continent.

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Although the EU Tobacco Products Directive came into effect in May 2016, shops were given the chance to sell off their old stock before the legislation came into place.

Smokers, here's what you need to know about 21 May:

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Why have the laws come into place?

In spite of the health warnings and ban on smoking indoors and in certain public places in the UK, more than 600 people start smoking every day, reported The Independent.

The laws, which want to target those taking up smoking, or are in the early stages of being a smoker, hope to dissuade those buying cigarettes with a combination of price hikes, drab packaging and a ban on certain types of cigarettes and flavours.

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What will change?

Menthol cigarettes, which have a 3% stake in the market, will be phased out completely by 2020.

Ten packs of cigarettes will no longer be available for purchase, and smaller hand-rolled cigarette packs will also be outlawed.

According to the directive, the smaller packs "are particularly appealing to young age groups with limited spending power will therefore, disappear from the market".

Packaging will be standardised too. This means that packs will all have the same opening, colour and font, and slimline and "irregular" shaped packets will also be banned.

"Graphic health warnings" and text will cover at least 65% of the packet, the law says. And if customers think they will get used to the repugnant imagery, they can think again. The graphics will rotate in sets of three to make sure that they "maintain their impact for as long as possible".

And if the list isn't long enough, the cheapest pack of cigarettes will cost £8.82. At the moment, the cheapest pack of 20 cigarettes in the UK costs £6.50.

The smallest hand rolled tobacco pouch will weigh 30g. Fruit, spice, herbs, alcohol, candy or vanilla flavoured tobacco will also be banned.

Will e-cigarettes be affected?

As a whole, e-cigarettes are not as heavily affected as standard cigarettes. This is said to be due to the lack of research into the consequences of using an e-cigarette, as well as the harm of certain flavours over others.

E-cigarettes will, however, now carry mandatory health warnings, and "promotional elements" will not be allowed on e-cigarette packaging.

Leaflets detailing the effects of using a cigarette will be provided with the item when purchased.

Will it have an effect?

The measures are the farthest-reaching smoking laws to date, but it will take time to see who the rules will hit the hardest.

In England, the population of smokers is at an all-time low. Around 7.2 million adults in the country smoke, according to Public Health England.

That means that 16.9% of the adult population have fallen prey to the habit, which is the equivalent of one in six people.

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