Regulation: Nicotine Pouches

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Canada: March 2024

Ministry of Health (MoH) issued a statement on the growing popularity and recreational use of nicotine pouches (marketed as nicotine replacement therapies)1 while noting that companies, misleading consumers about the purpose of these products and/or marketing them toward youth and non-smokers, will face the consequences.

Health Canada is currently pursuing legislative and regulatory mechanisms to put in place safeguards to address youth access and appeal, including restrictions on advertising, flavours and place of sale. MoH also commended the steps taken in British Columbia and Quebec, requiring nicotine pouches be sold only in pharmacies.

Finland: March 2024

The Government is planning to bring nicotine pouches under the current tobacco laws to discourage their use – especially by the younger population. The proposed legal reform will prohibit online sales, limit flavors and cap nicotine levels to 20mg/g.

Canada: Feburary 2024

British Columbia (Canada) restricts the sale of flavored nicotine pouches to pharmacies (effective immediately) in order to prevent the underage access across the province. The new regulation will require all buccal nicotine pouch products to be placed behind the counter at pharmacies. No prescription will be required, but purchasers will need to request the product from a pharmacist. The products will no longer be available for sale in convenience stores.

Launch of ZONNIC as a “Natural and Non-prescription Health Product” (i.e. smoking cessation aid) by Imperial Tobacco (ITCAN, part of BAT group) caused controversy in Canada and the Canadian anti-smoking advocates called on the federal government to restrict the sale of ZONNIC. Recall: our “Smoking Cessation Products” write-up.

We expect the other Canadian provinces and, eventually, the Federal Government, to follow course and introduce restrictions on the distribution & marketing of nicotine pouches.

Canada: December 2023

“There are very serious questions about what the tobacco industry is doing here and what their [disgusting] intention is”, said the Canada’s health minister and vowed to close the loophole on flavored nicotine pouches2. “Defaming a legal company about a product that was recently authorized for sale by his ministry is not worthy of a Canadian Health minister – even one whose background is as an anti-tobacco lobbyist”, responded ZONNIC-owner Imperial Tobacco Canada (ITCAN, part of BAT group).

In October 2023, Health Canada approved ZONNIC as a smoking cessation therapy (“Natural and Non-prescription Health Product”). Under the current regulatory scheme, there is no legal restriction on where and to whom these products can be sold and how they can be advertised. Only Quebec requires that they are sold at pharmacies. Canadian anti-smoking advocates are calling on the federal government to restrict the sale of ZONNIC and seeking a moratorium on approval for any other nicotine pouches, unless they are made available only by prescription. Recall: our “Smoking Cessation Products” write-up.

Health Canada requires ITCAN to self-report annually and identify any youth appeal/misuse of the product. “Marketing directed at youth would be deemed deceptive advertising and could trigger post-market compliance actions. However, decisions about where the products can be sold and age limits on purchase rest with the provinces and territories”, said Health Canada in a statement.

The EU: October 2023

The EU is considering a full-scale ban on nicotine pouches3. A pro-smokefree member of the European Parliament exposed a concealed EU report advocating for the prohibition. The document is part of preparatory works for the EU TPD update, expected in 2024. Belgium already banned the sale of nicotine pouches and the Netherlands has a ban in practice. In July 2021, BAT had to withdraw Velo out of the German market due to the uncertain legal status of the product. At the 2023 Investor Day, PMI avoided to disclose ZYN’s EU expansion plans mainly due to the regulatory strategy imperatives. An EU-wide ban on nicotine pouches would cripple the category’s global growth potential.

Belgium: September 2023

Starting from October 1st, sale of nicotine pouches will be banned in Belgium4 as part of the anti-tobacco plan signed by the Belgian Ministry of Health. The royal decree banning the sale of nicotine pouches was published in March 2023. Although wholesalers have been banned from selling nicotine pouches since July, retailers are allowed to continue selling them until October 1st in order to clear their existing stocks. In May 2023, BAT and PMI appealed to the Council of State to overturn the royal decree.

The Netherlands: April 2023

The Netherlands is planning to ban the sale of all nicotine pouches, while widening the tobacco use/advertising rules to include tobacco-free nicotine products5. Currently, nicotine pouches are allowed if they contain less than 0.035gr nicotine (- implying a “ban in practice”).

Iceland: March 2022

A new parliamentary bill recommends the inclusion of nicotine pouches in a law on e-cigarettes that bans the flavors6. The aim of the bill is [stated as] to decrease the use of nicotine pouches by children and young adults.

References:

  1. Statement from the Minister of Health on nicotine replacement therapies – Canada.ca ↩︎
  2. ‘We were duped’: Health minister vows to close ‘loophole’ on flavoured nicotine pouches | CBC News ↩︎
  3. https://londonlovesbusiness.com/why-a-eu-wide-nicotine-pouch-ban-could-undermine-public-health ↩︎
  4. https://www.belganewsagency.eu/total-ban-on-nicotine-pouches-in-belgium-from-1-october ↩︎
  5. https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/netherlands-bans-sale-all-nicotine-pouches-2023-04-21 ↩︎
  6. https://icelandreview.com/news/nicotine-products-to-be-banned-within-educational-institutions ↩︎

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