The sale of menthol cigarettes will be banned from tomorrow as new anti-smoking laws come into force.

The law change comes as part of new EU Tobacco Product Directive laws, which mean products for sale can no longer include ingredients that would make smoking more palatable by masking the taste of tobacco.

The move has been in the pipeline for a number of years, with the prohibition contained in the EU (Manufacture, Presentation and Sale of Tobacco and Related Products) Regulations 2016 made by the Minister for Health in 2016.

Minister for Health Simon Harris has welcomed the ban, and encouraged smokers to quit during the Covid-19 pandemic.

"Smoking is an addictive and lethal habit," he said.

"The pleasant taste of menthol masks the true taste of tobacco and might attract first-time smokers or keep people smoking who might wish to quit."

"The Covid-19 pandemic has made it more important than ever to quit.

"On 11 May, the World Health Organization said that a review of studies by public health experts found that smokers are more likely to develop severe disease with Covid-19, compared to non-smokers.

"It also warned that tobacco is a major risk factor for non-communicable diseases and these conditions increase the risk of developing severe illness when affected by Covid-19."

The Royal College of Physicians of Ireland's Policy Group on Tobacco has welcomed the ban.

Professor Des Cox, chair of the group, said there is a "misperception" that menthol cigarettes are less harmful than regular cigarettes.

However, he said there is "sufficient evidence that menthol cigarettes are just as harmful and are associated with increased nicotine dependence and lower quit rates".

He added that research demonstrates younger people are often first introduced to smoking by menthol cigarettes as they find them more attractive and more palatable.

Dr Cox said the ban "will likely result in fewer children taking up smoking".