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Smoking prevalence and purchasing of menthol cigarettes since the menthol flavour ban in Great Britain: a population-based survey between 2020 and 2023

Buss, Vera Helen; Tattan-Birch, Harry; Cox, Sharon; Bauld, Linda; Shahab, Lion; Brown, Jamie; (2024) Smoking prevalence and purchasing of menthol cigarettes since the menthol flavour ban in Great Britain: a population-based survey between 2020 and 2023. Tobacco Control 10.1136/tc-2023-058390. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

Background: Menthol cigarettes have been banned in Great Britain (GB) since May 2020. Still, menthol accessories and unlabelled cigarettes perceived as mentholated are available, and people can buy menthol cigarettes overseas or illicitly. This study assessed: trends in smoking menthol cigarettes among all adults and 18–24-year-olds in GB between October 2020 and March 2023; trends in and differences between England, Scotland and Wales during the same period and purchase sources among people smoking menthol versus non-flavoured cigarettes. Methods: Population-weighted data were from a monthly cross-sectional survey of adults in GB. Among people smoking cigarettes, we calculated the proportion smoking menthol cigarettes across all adults and 18–24-year-olds, and prevalence ratios (PR) between the first and last quarter. We also calculated the proportions of people smoking menthol/non-flavoured cigarettes by purchase source (including illicit sources). Results: In the first quarter, 16.2% of adults smoking cigarettes reported menthol cigarette smoking with little to no decline throughout the study (PR 0.85, 95% CI 0.71 to 1.01), while it declined among 18–24-year-olds (PR 0.75, 95% CI 0.63 to 0.89). The prevalence of menthol cigarette smoking fell by two-thirds in Wales (PR 0.36, 95% CI 0.19 to 0.62) but remained relatively stable in England (PR 0.88, 95% CI 0.72 to 1.06) and Scotland (PR 0.94, 95% CI 0.59 to 1.53). The main purchasing sources were licit (93.9%), 14.8% reported illicit sources and 11.5% cross-border purchases, without notable differences from people smoking non-flavoured cigarettes. Conclusions: Roughly one million adults in GB still smoke menthol cigarettes and, with the exception of Wales and young people, there were no noteworthy changes in the post-ban period. There was no indication that the overall persistence of menthol smoking was driven by illicit purchases.

Type: Article
Title: Smoking prevalence and purchasing of menthol cigarettes since the menthol flavour ban in Great Britain: a population-based survey between 2020 and 2023
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1136/tc-2023-058390
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/tc-2023-058390
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2024. This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported (CC BY 4.0) license, which permits others to copy, redistribute, remix, transform and build upon this work for any purpose, provided the original work is properly cited, a link to the licence is given, and indication of whether changes were made. See: (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health > Behavioural Science and Health
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10191547
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