Finland: Nicotine pouches remain in shops - with tax and "adult flavours"

Despite threats of a ban, the Finnish government is now pivoting on the issue of nicotine pouches. The products, which until only a month ago were classified as medicines and could only be bought with a prescription, will be allowed to be sold in ordinary shops in the future. At the same time, 'white snus' will be regulated under the same laws as tobacco products.

According to the newly formed government official programmes, nicotine pouches with a maximum of 20 mg of nicotine per pouch will be allowed to be sold with a licence and age verification. The products will also be taxed in the same way as e-liquid and e-cigarettes.

Handed out empty cans

For Ida Leino, Chairman of the The Youth League of the National Coalition Party the government's decision is a victory. The Youth League has been working to make nicotine pouches, i.e. "white snus", legal over the counter in Finland. Recently, the organisation even stood outside the Parliament and handed out empty snuff boxes.

"It got a lot of media attention, actually. We put up sticky notes saying that the government is losing €70 million a year because of the black market," says Mr Perez. Ida Leino to Vejpkollen.

Wants to bring the mill under control

According to Ida Leino regulation is important to curb the increasing use, especially among younger people. She is very pleased with the decision to introduce regulation rather than further bans.

"Many young people are already using these products and buying them on the black market. We need tools to control their use. With regulation, we can manage better. Through taxation, for example, we can finance controls on sales and the harmful effects of use." she tells Vejpkollen.

"Flavours aimed at adults"

At the same time as allowing sales, the government is imposing restrictions on flavours. According to the government's statement, nicotine pouches may only be provided with 'adult flavours'. The flavour ban follows the provisions of the Finnish Tobacco Act, where both tobacco and tobacco-free nicotine products are strictly regulated in terms of flavouring.

Unclear about tobacco flavours

For tobacco products, this currently means that no flavourings may alter the original taste, i.e. pure burnt tobacco. For e-liquid and e-cigarettes it means that the only flavouring allowed is so-called 'tobacco flavouring' (usually a mixture of dark chocolate, bark and smoke flavouring). 

What should apply to nicotine pouches is unclear. Like e-liquid, which consists mostly of glycerine and propylene glycol, nicotine pouches have no original flavour as they are made of plant cellulose.

Traditional snus is still banned from sale in Finland - a ban that applies to all EU countries except Sweden.

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