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Campaigners call for ban on sale of nicotine pouches to under-18s

November 1, 2022

Photo: iStock

Health campaigners have urged to tighten a loophole that permits the over-the-counter and internet sale of nicotine products to minors in the UK, highlighting that while the sale of cigarettes and e-cigarettes is forbidden to under-18s, pouches are not regulated in the same way.

Speaking to the BBV, charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) told the BBC that the absence of rules is like the ‘Wild West’.

Hazel Cheeseman, deputy chief executive at ASH, said better legal regulation was needed to ban free samples and sales to under-18s, introduce limits on strength and to restrict marketing of the pouches.

“Companies are operating to what the law allows,” Cheeseman added. “There is extensive promotion and no way to know if they’re being sold to people under 18. We need a regulatory framework that captures all nicotine products.”

The regulations governing cigarettes, vaping products, and other medical items do not apply to nicotine pouches. Leading brands have introduced their own restrictions on age of sale and warnings on packaging.

New figures from ASH suggest that the number of people using the pouches in the UK is small. In its survey of 13,000 people, about one in 25 had tried nicotine pouches and awareness was highest among 18 to 24-year-olds, with 45 per cent having heard of them.

The call for regulating nicotine pouches has been welcomed by one of the UK’s largest nicotine pouch providers, Nordic Spirit, owned by Japan Tobacco International (JTI), BBC reported.

In a statement, the Department of Health and Social Care said: “We continue to review the impact of nicotine pouches, including by commissioning an expert committee to investigate their risks.”