THE ban on menthol cigarettes is likely to result in an increase in vaping but is unlikely to stop people smoking.
That is the view of Cork businessman Kevin Herlihy, following this week's ban on menthol cigarettes.
The measure was implemented on Wednesday and the aim of the ban is "to ensure that cigarette and tobacco products for sale can no longer include ingredients that would make smoking more palatable or make it easier for someone to start smoking by masking the taste of tobacco", according to the Department of Health.
However, Mr Herlihy, of Herlihy Centra, said that the ban will lead to an increase in vaping, as well as turn menthol cigarette smokers towards a product which is legally sold and which can be inserted into a cigarette to change its taste to menthol.
He said: "This ban will not stop people smoking."
The sale of menthol cigarettes was an 18% share of cigarette sales across the country, according to the Retailers Against Smuggling group.
National spokesperson for RAS, Benny Gilsenan, said however that the ban on menthol cigarettes could result in a widening of a black market.
He said: "We have already witnessed a growth in the trade of illicit menthol cigarettes in the UK over recent months and there is a real risk we will see a similar trend emerge here.” The ban is being introduced to follow the completion of a four-year phasing-in period under a 2016 EU directive on tobacco products.
The Minister for Health, Simon Harris, said: "Smoking is an addictive and lethal habit. The pleasant taste of menthol masks the true taste of tobacco and might attract first time smokers or keep people smoking who might wish to quit. The COVID-19 pandemic has made it more important than ever to quit. On 11 May the World Health Organisation said that a review of studies by public health experts found that smokers are more likely to develop severe disease with COVID-19, compared to non-smokers."