Eur J Public Health. 2022 Jun 9:ckac063. doi: 10.1093/eurpub/ckac063. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: In May 2020, the European Union Tobacco Products Directive mandated that EU member states, including Poland, ban the sale of menthol cigarettes. With menthol making up 28% of cigarette sales before the ban, Poland is the country with likely the largest menthol cigarette sales share in the world to ban their sale. We analyze how this ban changed the Polish tobacco market.
METHODS: We use monthly NielsenIQ data (May 2018-April 2021) on sales of cigarettes and roll-your-own tobacco by menthol and standard flavor in eight regions of Poland. We set up a bite-style regression model controlling for pre-ban menthol share, climate, border opening status, and Apple movement data to estimate the effect of the May 2020 menthol ban.
RESULTS: We find menthol cigarette sales fell at least 97% after the menthol cigarette ban across Poland and standard cigarette sales replaced them. Regression modeling indicates that total cigarette sales fell, after the ban, an average of 2.2 sticks per capita per month, equal to a 2.9% decline, however, results were not significant (P = 0.199). The bite component of our model reveals total cigarette sales did decline significantly in the regions with the highest pre-ban menthol sales shares. Roll-your-own tobacco sales increased by a statistically insignificant 0.03 stick-equivalents after the ban (P = 0.798). Product prices also fell in the wake of the menthol ban.
CONCLUSIONS: In Poland, the EU state with the one of the largest pre-ban menthol shares, we find mixed evidence that the ban is working as intended.