The introduction of nicotine pouches to the Canadian market has raised concerns among health experts, who are urging prompt regulation due to the legal availability of these products to children.
On Tuesday, a group of Canadian health organizations, including the Canadian Cancer Society, urged the federal government to restrict the availability of nicotine pouches, saying the product contains “a highly addictive drug.”
“This is the first time in more than 100 years that it is legal for a nicotine product from a tobacco company to be sold to minors in Canada,” Rob Cunningham, senior policy analyst at the Canadian Cancer Society, said in a media release. “Tobacco companies cannot be trusted. It is essential that the federal health ministers take action on an urgent basis.”
On Oct. 12, Health Canada approved the sale of flavoured nicotine pouches from Imperial Tobacco, called Zonnic. According to the press release from the company, the product is a pouch that can help adult smokers quit by delivering nicotine to the body.
However, health experts like Cunningham argue that without regulations similar to those governing cigarette smoking, children face the risk of becoming addicted to these products.
“These nicotine pouches are clearly appealing to youth,” Cunningham added. “With attractive flavours such as Tropic Breeze, Chill Mint and Berry Frost, and with colourful, small packages that might well hold candy, of course, youth will want to buy them. The devastating result is that youth will become trapped into nicotine addiction.”
Because of this potential harm, a group of health organizations — Action on Smoking and Health, the Canadian Cancer Society, the Canadian Lung Association, the Heart & Stroke Foundation and Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada, are asking Health Canada to create tighter rules.
At the media conference Tuesday, the experts urged the federal government to reclassify the nicotine products as a prescription product or to suspend the sale of them until “the regulatory gap is closed.”
“Nicotine is a highly addictive drug, and there must be adequate controls before a nicotine product is allowed on the market,” Terry Dean, president and CEO of the Canadian Lung Association, said in a media release.
“Requiring nicotine pouches to be sold by prescription only could be done quickly and easily. The need for immediate action is all the more necessary given that other companies are already seeking approval to sell nicotine pouches, which would make the problem even worse.”
© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.