Finland is relaxing the rules on nicotine pouches. At least temporarily. This means that tobacco-free high-nicotine snus, a product previously classified as a medicine, can now be purchased in shops and imported by private individuals in Finland.
It will now be possible for Finns to buy higher strength nicotine pouches without a prescription. According to a government decision, nicotine pouches will no longer be generally classified as medicines, meaning that even unlicensed companies can import and sell nicotine pouches with more than 4mg/per pouch.
At the same time, the Finnish government has proposed that a total ban on the import of snus to the country. It is likely that nicotine pouches will also be included in the ban, which could make their availability very temporary, according to YLE.
To be regulated as tobacco
According to Fimea, the agency that monitors medicines in Finland, it is no longer possible to classify nicotine pouches as medicines. This is especially true if the products are not explicitly marketed as a medicine. However, it is considered that nicotine pouches should be monitored in the same way as tobacco products, as they usually contain nicotine.
"Nicotine pouches essentially fulfil the definition of a tobacco substitute, i.e. they are similar in purpose to a tobacco product, but do not contain tobacco. In the future, the provisions of the Tobacco Act on tobacco substitutes will be applied mutatis mutandis. In addition, the chemicals legislation will continue to apply to nicotine preparations", writes Fimea in a statement.
Low nicotine strength ineffective
Nicotine pouches were invented in Sweden as a tools for smoking cessation. The first variants could only contain 4mg/bag, as this was the practice for other medicines in the segment, such as nicotine gum. However, the low nicotine strength has proved to be relatively ineffective in terms of keep smokers smoke-free for a longer period of time.
With the regulation of e-cigarettes and e-liquid, according to the The EU Tobacco Directive, with a maximum nicotine concentration of 20mg/ml, nicotine pouches could also be sold at a higher strength without being classified as medicines. Today, nicotine pouches contain on average as much nicotine as Swedish snus, i.e. around 10mg/pouch.
Substitutes for cigarettes
Nicotine pouches are widely used as a substitute for cigarettes among smokers. At the same time, the uptake has been high among young people, in both Finland and Sweden, which has led to tougher legislation and age limits to get buy nicotine pouches. The Swedish Consumer Agency stated earlier this year that it will increase the pressure on Swedish retailers to comply with restrictions on marketing and sales that may target people under the age of 25 in Sweden.