Cigarette 10-packs to be banned, along with menthols and rolling tobacco under 20g

Health warnings will cover 65% of tobacco packets, while 10-packs of cigarettes and pouches of rolling tobacco weighing less than 20g will be banned.

European Parliament has voted to make these changes as part of its Tobacco Products Directive and there are fears it could spell a sales slump for independent retailers.

Proposals to ban ‘slim’ cigarettes have been dropped, but menthol cigarettes have been given a grace period of five years before they are banned.

Nearly a third of the UK cigarette market is sold in packs of less than 20 cigarettes and just under half of the UK rolling tobacco market sold is in quantities of less than 20g. Menthol cigarettes currently account for 8% of the UK market.

Whitstable retailer and national spokeswoman for the Tobacco Retailers’ Alliance Debbie Corris, said: “In banning these packs, which make up 27% of the UK’s cigarette market, the EU is going to seriously affect independent retailers across the country.

“In addition, many of my customers buy the smaller packs in an effort to control how much they smoke. Now, thanks to the EU, they won’t be able to do this. Instead they’ll either have to buy the larger packs which will encourage them to smoke more, or alternatively source the smaller packs from smugglers who must be delighted with the EU’s decision. It’s worth remembering too that smugglers don’t care about the age of their customers.

The directive could become law in 2014 and would then take two more years to become law in each of the 28 EU member states, including the UK.