Menthol in cigarettes has been shown to increase regular cigarette smoking and nicotine dependence, and decrease success in smoking cessation. Due to these reasons, in May 2015, the Province of Ontario introduced a menthol ban on tobacco products that came into effect in January 2017 prior to a Federal Canadian Ban in October 2017. The objective of this paper is to assess the effect of a provincial menthol ban on cigarette wholesale sales in Ontario.
Wholesale data submitted by tobacco manufacturers to Health Canada pursuant to the federal Tobacco Reporting Regulations from October 2012- September 2017 was analyzed using interrupted time series analysis. Changes in sales of cigarettes with and without menthol were estimated, using the province of British Columbia as a comparison. Analyses were seasonally adjusted.
Sales of menthol and non-menthol cigarettes increased from 2013 until the implementation of the 2017 provincial ban. Subsequently, a sharp decline of 55 million menthol cigarettes and 128 million total cigarettes was observed in Ontario. As a comparison, no significant changes were observed in British Columbia.
This study supports the conclusion that implementation of a menthol ban in Ontario was associated with significant reduction of menthol cigarette sales and total cigarettes sales, compared to British Columbia where there was no provincial menthol ban. This suggests that menthol regulations in jurisdictions with a larger percentage of menthol smokers are likely to be highly effective.
The 2017 menthol ban was associated with significant reduction of menthol cigarette sales and total cigarette sales suggesting that menthol regulations will have important effects on cigarette consumption.