HAMPSHIRE’S trading standards team has seized menthol cigarettes which have been banned since 2020 and said it continues to tackle the problem of youth vaping.

According to research by University College London, one in seven of Britain’s smokers still use menthol cigarettes.

The research, conducted by UCL and part-funded by Cancer Research UK, examined survey responses from 66,868 adults in England, Wales, and Scotland. Of those, around 15 per cent indicated buying menthol cigarettes from ‘illicit’ sources like ‘under the counter’.

The government banned ‘flavoured’ cigarettes in 2020 and councils’ trading standards teams are responsible for tackling the sale of banned products.

Recently, Cllr Heather Kidd, trading standards spokesperson for the Local Government Association, highlighted the importance of funding trading standards teams to “properly enforce the ban” since some councils were “struggling” to staff their enforcement service.

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Despite the ban, Hampshire County Council confirmed that menthol cigarettes are still being sold.

A total of eight packages of 20 menthol cigarettes were seized from a retailer in November 2023, with an approximate value of £80.

Cabinet lead for regulatory services, Cllr Russell Oppenheimer, said regular checks are being carried out on tobacco products and vape products as well as “cracking down” on youth vaping.

Cllr Oppenheimer said: “The Hampshire tobacco control strategy’s action plan references the importance of tackling illicit tobacco. Public health has provided trading standards with additional funding in this regard.

“The trading standards team regularly checks tobacco and vape product retailers. These are, of course, generally the same retailers, so all products are checked on every visit.

“At HCC, we have been cracking down on youth vaping for over a year now, and trading standards have done an excellent job. I have been out with the teams myself to witness spot checks on three retailers, so I have firsthand experience of this crackdown.

“The fact that we have confiscated over £300,000 worth of products and currently have two retailers under investigation is a very good sign. I am confident that we have the right team, the right resources, and the right strategy to prevent the sale of all illegal tobacco products in Hampshire.”

Recently, the county council approved £23 million for a new service to help people quit smoking and others to not take it up. The council said that will support the national campaign for a smoke-free generation.

The Hampshire tobacco control strategy states that 4,522 residents die, and 8,631 residents are admitted to hospital each year because of smoking.