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Open letter to retailers: Do not accept nicotine pouches for sale

Acting together, we need to ensure that new nicotine products do not get out of control and lead to more people becoming addicted to nicotine. This is important both to protect the health of children and young people and to stop the use of tobacco and nicotine products.

We know that nicotine is a highly addictive substance that causes short-term and long-term harm to people and the environment. When nicotine pouches end up in the natural environment, they cause litter and pose a risk to animals.

Nicotine pouches are designed to be attractive to children and young people. Their flavours, aromas and packaging and the way they are marketed are targeted at the young. The aim is to obscure the harmfulness of nicotine pouches. If they become readily available, it will increase the likelihood of young people becoming addicted to nicotine.

We would like to point out that nicotine is particularly dangerous for children, young people and inexperienced users. The product can cause them serious symptoms of poisoning. For babies and infants, nicotine pouches pose a risk to life if the product enters the mouth. Nicotine has a negative effect on the brain development of children and adolescents, and if used during pregnancy it affects foetal development.

Increasing the availability and sales of nicotine pouches will likely lead to more people developing nicotine addiction at a younger age, which will be difficult to break. Nicotine addiction is often a gateway to the use of other tobacco and nicotine products, increasing the incidence of health problems and the risk of cancer. There are also product safety risks, as nicotine levels can vary and product labelling can be inadequate. In addition, the risk of nicotine pouches being passed on to minors increases when these products are made widely available.

Article 1 of the Tobacco Act aims to eliminate the use of tobacco products and other nicotine-containing products that are toxic to humans and addictive. This objective has been pursued through determined action, including responsible regulation of price, availability and marketing, and support for quitting nicotine products.

The Finnish Medicines Agency’s new interpretation that the Medicines Act does not apply to nicotine pouches threatens to undermine the aims of the Tobacco Act. Due to the intermediate legal status of nicotine pouches, there is a risk of a significant increase in their availability, and with it an increase in nicotine-related harm.

Our organisations have proposed that the Tobacco Act be made clearer in order to achieve the objectives of the Act. This means banning the sale of nicotine pouches for recreational use and clearer regulation of their foreign importation. The use of flavourings should also be prohibited from all tobacco products.

We hope that you in the retail sector will play your part in helping to build a smoke-free and nicotine-free Finland.

Yours sincerely,

Mika Pyykkö, Executive Director, Finnish Brain Association
Juha Viertola, Executive Director, Finnish Diabetes Association
Juha Mikkonen, Executive Director, Finnish Association for Substance Abuse
Tuula Vasankari, Secretary General, Finnish Lung Health Association
Markku Hyttinen, Executive Director, Organisation for Respiratory Health in Finland
Marjaana Lahti-Koski, Secretary General, Finnish Heart Association
Juha Pekka Turunen, Secretary General, Cancer Society of Finland