Impact of the European Union’s menthol cigarette ban on smoking cessation outcomes: longitudinal findings from the 2020–2021 ITC Netherlands Surveys


Kyriakos, C.N., Driezen, P., Fong, G.T., Chung-Hall, J., Hyland, A., Geboers, C., Quah, A.C.K., Willemsen, M.C., Filippidis, F. (2022). Impact of the European Union’s menthol cigarette ban on smoking cessation outcomes: Longitudinal findings from the 2020-2021 ITC Netherlands Surveys. Tobacco Control, [Published online September 26, doi: 10.1136/tc-2022-057428].


Introduction: To reduce the appeal of tobacco, the European Union (EU) banned menthol as a characterising flavour in cigarettes in May 2020. This pre/post-study evaluated the impact of the menthol ban on smoking cessation outcomes among a representative cohort of Dutch smokers.

Methods: Adult (18+ years) smokers were recruited at wave 1 (pre-ban) of the International Tobacco Control Netherlands Surveys (February–March 2020) and followed post-ban at wave 2 (September–November 2020) and wave 3 (June–July 2021) (N=1326 participated in all three waves). Weighted bivariate, logistic regression and generalised estimating equation model analyses were conducted.

Results: Usual menthol use decreased from pre-ban (7.8%) to post-ban (4.0% at wave 2 and 4.4% at wave 3) (p<0.001). Pre-ban menthol smokers had greater odds of making a post-ban quit attempt than non-menthol smokers (66.9% vs 49.6%, adjusted OR (aOR)=1.89, 95% CI: 1.13 to 3.16). Compared with pre-ban non-menthol smokers, a higher proportion of menthol smokers quit by wave 2 (17.8% vs 10.2%, p=0.025) and by wave 3 (26.1% vs 14.1%, p=0.002), although this was not significant after adjusting for other factors. Female pre-ban menthol smokers had greater odds of quitting by wave 3 than female non-menthol smokers (aOR=2.23, 95% CI: 1.10 to 4.51). Most pre-ban menthol smokers (n=99) switched to non-menthol cigarettes (40.0%) or reported that they continued to smoke menthol cigarettes (33.0%) at wave 3.

Conclusions: The EU menthol ban was effective in reducing menthol use and in increasing quit attempts and quitting among pre-ban menthol smokers. Impact could be maximised by closing gaps that allow post-ban menthol cigarette use.