Regulating, not banning, nicotine pouches is the key to reducing smoking rates in the Netherlands

The Dutch government is proposing a ban on the sale of nicotine pouches. While nicotine pouches should be regulated, a complete ban is misguided and could cause harm since it would remove a risk-reduced nicotine alternative from the market.

Clearly, the Dutch government does not understand that a harm-reduction strategy is essential to effectively reduce smoking-related disease and death. Banning a less harmful nicotine alternative to combustible tobacco is not the answer how to improve public health.

The Swedish experience

The Netherlands has some of the highest smoking rates in Europe. Sweden, on the contrary, has one of the lowest smoking rates in Europe. The widespread use of Swedish snus, a type of smokeless tobacco, has helped cut smoking rates and improve public health. Sweden has encouraged the consumption of less harmful nicotine alternatives to cigarettes through risk-based taxation.

Undermining the goal of creating a smoke-free generation

Offering a less harmful alternative can help smokers transition from cigarettes to a healthier lifestyle. Banning these products would only make it harder for smokers to quit and undermine the Dutch government’s goal of creating a “smoke-free generation” by 2040, where less than 5 per cent of the population smokes daily. Sweden is the only country that comes close to reaching such a target, with only 6 per cent of the population smoking daily.

The power of sensible regulations

Prohibiting nicotine pouches would push the market underground and make it more challenging to regulate. There is also no evidence that nicotine pouches are a gateway to smoking cigarettes. They may serve as a less harmful alternative that helps prevent people from starting to smoke. While other European Union member states are regulating nicotine pouches, the Dutch government’s proposed ban would put the Netherlands at odds with the rest of Europe.

Public consultation closes on January 16th

Cigarette smoke, not nicotine, is the primary source of health risks associated with smoking. By promoting less harmful alternatives and reducing smoking rates, the Dutch government can work towards its goal of a smoke-free generation. However, banning nicotine pouches would only make this goal more challenging.

The Dutch government is currently seeking public input on this proposal through a consultation that closes on January 16th. Find the consultation here.

It is crucial to make our voices heard on this issue, and you can use this text as inspiration for a response to the Dutch government. One of many actors that have taken a stance is (in Dutch here). They have listed some relevant arguments on their website, which also could be used as inspiration or directly copied into the consultation portal.

Do you have tips on issues, trends, or research we should mention? Or maybe a personal testimonial you would like to share? Please reach out!