Nicotine pouches to be lumped under tobacco legislation in Finland
07th Sep 2023
The Finnish government has decided to regulate nicotine pouches under the tobacco law, which could mean that nicotine pouches will be subject to the same price and flavour restrictions as cigarettes.
The Finnish government’s decision to categorize nicotine products under the same category as tobacco products is a misstep because they are simply not the same thing. Nicotine pouches and their wide range of flavours are a reason why many people quit the more harmful habit of smoking. Combining nicotine and tobacco may blur the guidelines for quitting a smoking addiction, and the risk is that a smoker may continue to maintain their addiction. The attractiveness of nicotine pouches is one of the keys to converting smokers to risk-reducing products.
See the Finnish government proposal here.
Higher prices drive consumers away from harm reducing products
What the new legislative proposal will entail – in addition to nicotine pouches falling under tobacco legislation – is that the excise tax on these products will be raised, making it more expensive for consumers. The price increase may lead more people to choose alternatives that are more economically advantageous but more harmful.
The Finnish government must clarify the possibility of online sales of nicotine pouches. Online sales ensure 100 percent age verification, reduce the product’s appeal among youth and non-nicotine users, and make it easier for authorities to ensure tax payments if cross-border nicotine pouches sales are not allowed.
Focus on harm reduction
The Finnish government should reconsider this strategy, and especially not categorize tobacco and nicotine products together. What is lethal in a cigarette addiction is the inhalation of smoke, not the nicotine itself. Nicotine pouches, with its wide range of flavours and attractiveness for smokers, should instead be seen as a less harmful substitute to cigarettes – something that could reduce smoking prevalence and save lives.