Imperial Tobacco is kicking off its strategy to mitigate the impact of next year’s menthol ban.
The tobacco giant has developed a new product under its Rizla rolling paper brand that smokers can insert into packets of cigarettes and rolling tobacco to create a menthol effect.
The Rizla Flavour Infusions launch in January and are flavour cards that Imperial says can “mentholate” traditional factory-made cigarettes or roll-your-own tobacco.
The ban on menthol and flavoured tobacco products will come into effect in May and is the last wave of regulation to be introduced as part of the EU Tobacco Products Directive. It has already resulted in the banning of cigarette 10-packs and smaller packs of rolling tobacco, much larger health warnings and Track & Trace anti-illicit trade technology.
It is set to have a huge impact on the £13bn tobacco category, with menthols or cigarettes featuring flavour-changing capsules accounting for 26% of total sales.
Rizla Flavour Infusions came in either Menthol Chill or Fresh Mint varieties. The cards are individually wrapped so they can be sold separately with an rrp of 25p.
To use the product, smokers add the card to cigarette packs or tobacco pouches and wait an hour for it to infuse, or longer for a stronger flavour.
“When the menthol ban arrives in May 2020, many adult smokers will be left without their flavour of choice,” said Imperial Tobacco market manager UK Chris Street.
“This revolutionary new proposition will allow these shoppers to discover a whole new way to flavour their tobacco.
“Menthol and crushball sales are collectively worth 26% of the total UK tobacco market, making up nearly one in four cigarette sales. By stocking alternative product solutions such as Rizla Flavour Infusions or MyBlu pod-mod vape devices, retailers can provide shoppers with options to help them stick with their flavour preference post-ban and protect their sales as a result.”
The new product is categorised as a tobacco accessory and so is also not subject to the tobacco display ban.