The Czech Republic leads the way in Europe
06th Feb 2023
The Czech Republic is considering extending its legislation on tobacco products and e-cigarettes to include nicotine pouches. All friends of nicotine pouches should welcome the Czech initiative.
The lower chamber of the Czech Parliament (the Chamber of Deputies) has recently adopted an amendment to the legislation regulating tobacco and nicotine products. With this change, the legislation will also cover nicotine pouches, which means the product will be regulated and prohibited from being sold to underage consumers.
On 23 January, the Chamber of Deputies submitted the draft law to the upper chamber of Parliament (the Senate). The Senate now has 30 days to approve the bill, make amendments and send it back to the Chamber of Deputies or veto it. Experts believe that the Senate will support the legislation.
Czech Republic is a supporter of harm reduction
The regulation should be seen in light of the Czech Republic’s strong support for harm-reduction strategies. Nicotine pouches are seen as a tool to reduce the harmful effects of smoking. At the same time, legislators have realised that measures are needed to avoid new recruitment among young people.
The Czech Republic also regulates nicotine pouches’ composition, labelling, quality, and other characteristics, including nicotine strength. The Czech Ministry of Health’s proposal may lead to the introduction of an upper nicotine limit of 12 mg per pouch.
Nicotine content is all about attractiveness
There are no reasons why nicotine pouches should contain excessive amounts of nicotine. We believe that 20 mg per pouch may be a reasonable upper limit. Nicotine pouches must be sufficiently attractive to induce smokers to switch to less harmful nicotine products. Part of this attractiveness is the nicotine content.
The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment advocates a nicotine limit of 16.6 mg per pouch, corresponding to the nicotine concentration in the blood after one cigarette. A smoker would then get about the same amount of nicotine in the blood but in a less harmful way.
Too many European countries see nicotine pouches as a threat to public health rather than an opportunity to convert smokers to safer nicotine alternatives. Nevertheless, the Czech Republic is on the right track. Nicotine should not be banned but regulated.
The EU and all its Member States should follow in the Czech Republic’s footsteps.