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Home News ‘Proportionate’ regulation of pouches welcome: NNA

‘Proportionate’ regulation of pouches welcome: NNA

November 29, 2022

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The New Nicotine Alliance (NNA), which represents consumers of low-risk alternatives to cigarettes such as vaping products, nicotine pouches, smokeless and heated tobacco products, has welcomed some of the proposals from health groups regarding the regulation of nicotine pouches.

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

The NNA noted that the lack of an age limit for pouch sales is ‘not technically’ a loophole, but “it is merely that one has not been set as pouches have been regulated under General Product Safety Regulations and do not have their own regulatory framework.”

It reiterated its earlier call for a “proportionate regulatory regime for nicotine pouches and other non-tobacco oral nicotine products based on consumer welfare and protection.”

The consumer body added that it has written to the health secretary in February and August, 2020, and again to public health minister in January 2021 on the subject of nicotine pouches regulation.

“Our letters emphasised the significant potential benefits of nicotine pouches but observed that there was a need to install regulations in order to clamp down on ‘unscrupulous sellers in the UK who are acting recklessly’. We also noted that although ‘there is no evidence that currently these nicotine pouches are in the hands of under 18s’, it is necessary to put in place a minimum age of sale to pre-empt any difficulties that could arise in the absence of clarity that the products are intended for adults who wish to use a safer nicotine product,” the NNA said in a statement.

The organisation also called for a stated limit on the strength of nicotine pouches, and a standard measure for consumers to understand what strength of product they are purchasing, as currently different manufacturers convey the product strength in different ways.

“We understand that nicotine strength is not the only factor in how consumers can safely ingest nicotine from snus and non-tobacco nicotine pouches, and that quality of manufacture and ingredients also play a part, but until a more sophisticated regulatory assessment of all these factors can be put in place, a set limit can act as a sensible barrier to help remove unregulated and irresponsible online sellers from the market,” the statement read.

The organisation highlighted a precedent in Europe, as the Slovak Parliament last month unanimously approved a bill regulating nicotine pouches. The bill introduced a definition for nicotine pouches, regulated their composition, assigned health warnings and determined a nicotine limit of 20 mg/pouch, amongst other measures.

However, the NNA disagreed with the calls to ban on the samples and marketing of the products, saying they can be a very useful way of attracting, especially, smokers towards pouches.

“Action on Smoking and Health’s latest report on e-cigarette use in Great Britain found that only 3.9 per cent of the public have ever tried a nicotine pouch. If we are to genuinely move towards Smokefree 2030, it is important that all reduced risk options of nicotine delivery are known to the public and it serves no good purpose to ban advertising for them while over 14 per cent of the adult population still smokes,” it said in the statement.

“It is good to see some of our long-held suggestions on nicotine pouches regulation being taken up by health groups, but it is important that the government does not go too far and over-regulate to the point that potential benefits of the products are lost.”