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Regulating flavours and flavour delivery technologies: an analysis of menthol cigarettes and RYO tobacco in Aotearoa New Zealand
  1. Philip Gendall,
  2. Janet Hoek
  1. University of Otago, Wellington, New Zealand
  1. Correspondence to Professor Janet Hoek, University of Otago, Wellington 6242, New Zealand; janet.hoek{at}otago.ac.nz

Abstract

Introduction Menthol facilitates smoking initiation among young people, enhances nicotine’s addictiveness and fosters the false belief that menthol products are safer. As a result, several countries have banned use of menthol as a characterising flavour. Aotearoa New Zealand (NZ) could disallow menthol-flavoured cigarettes as part of its endgame legislation; however, little is known about the NZ menthol market.

Methods To examine the NZ menthol market, we analysed tobacco company returns to the Ministry of Health from 2010 to 2021. We calculated the market share of menthol cigarettes as a percentage of total cigarettes released for sale, estimated capsule cigarettes’ market share as a percentage of total cigarette released for sale and menthol released for sale, and calculated menthol roll-your-own (RYO) tobacco released for sale as a percentage of total RYO released.

Results Menthol brands accounted for a relatively small but nonetheless sizeable proportion of NZ’s tobacco market and in 2021 constituted 13% of NZ’s factory made cigarette market and 7% of the RYO market, representing 161 million cigarettes and 25 tonnes of RYO. The introduction of capsule technologies using menthol flavours corresponded with a rise in menthol sales among factory made cigarettes.

Conclusions Capsule technologies using menthol flavours work synergistically to enhance the appeal of smoking and appear likely to encourage experimentation among non-smoking young people. Comprehensive policy that regulates menthol flavours and innovations used to deliver flavour sensations will support tobacco endgame goals in NZ and could inform policy in other countries.

  • End game
  • Prevention
  • Advocacy

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Footnotes

  • Contributors JH conceptualised the study. PG analysed the data and wrote the first MS draft. JH revised this draft; both authors have reviewed and approved the final version. PG is guarantor of the MS.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.