Tobacco companies are taking advantage of the U.K.’s ban on menthol cigarettes to promote alternative products, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. Philip Morris described the ban (beginning May 20) as a huge opportunity for his business, as 1.3 million menthol smokers in the UK are considering their options.

Before the ban, the company hired sales representatives to promote its menthol-heated tobacco products directly to newspaper agents. This is one of its only legal methods of advertising in the UK. In the UK, almost all tobacco advertising is prohibited. It also provides new customers with promotional mint flavor kits and trial packs. Any of its four mint flavors has half-price tobacco.

As global smoking rates have fallen, Philip Morris has been looking for alternative products, including heated tobacco, which is not subject to the British menthol ban. Philip Morris is the first company in the UK to launch heated tobacco products in the UK. IQOS does not burn heating devices. Philip Morris is expected to use this loophole. The company promotes IQOS as the closest substitute for menthol cigarettes.

The company claims that it supports smokers to quit smoking instead of switching to other tobacco products, but the Investigative Information Bureau can reveal that the company is tenaciously pursuing the large mint cigarette market.

According to sources, at the company-wide event on December 12, 2019, Peter Nixon, managing director of Philip Morris, revealed that the UK office was required to season IQOS with heated tobacco Heets Sales increased by 400% in 2020. In a subsequent email to employees, he said that 2020 is the most important year in history… IQOS development momentum plus the menthol ban provides us with huge opportunities. At the end of this year, I hope that all of us will go back and say that we have taken advantage of everything.

Nixon said earlier this month that the reason for the ban was to reduce the number of smokers. Will we see this. Its effect is that this will cause menthol smokers to make their own choices for some time. Do this because they will not be able to use their products. Therefore, whether they quit or turn to other things is the moment when people have to make a decision.

PMI did not respond to requests for comment.

John Britton, professor and director of epidemiology at the Centre for British Tobacco and Alcohol Research at the University of Nottingham, said that the menthol ban is bad news for many smokers and they will find that smoking is less attractive. Great opportunity to quit smoking. He said tobacco companies will want to minimize the number of quitters and continue to increase the number of people who buy products from them. He added that any nicotine product has a certain range of risks, ranging from medically approved products to combustible tobacco. We do not know the impact of IQOS, but it is closer to combustible tobacco than e-cigarettes or medicinal nicotine.

Philip Morris’ sales ambitions were hampered by the coronavirus pandemic. Before the crisis, the company had hired sales representatives across the country to promote IQOS to retailers nationwide. However, employees in a blocked state cannot access the store and instead promote products by telephone.