Are Nicotine Pouches Being Banned?

30 May 2024

Are Nicotine Pouches Being Banned?

Nicotine pouches are being banned for children under the new Tobacco and Vapes Bill, according to the UK government. Announced on 15 April 2024, the bill aims to create a smoke-free generation and tackle youth vaping. The bill includes a new law to prevent children who turn 15 in 2024 or younger from ever being legally sold cigarettes, tobacco products, or nicotine alternatives like tobacco-free nicotine pouches. Additionally, the bill addresses the growing concern of youth vaping by introducing measures to restrict disposable vapes, vape flavours, packaging, and displays in shops.

Timeline of the Tobacco and Vapes Bill

First, let's outline the key timeline around the Tobacco and Vapes Bill containing the nicotine pouch measures:

  • Initial announcement in King's speech on 7 November 2023: Marking the beginning of the legislative process.
  • Public consultation from 12 October to 6 December 2023: Input was sought by the government.
  • Introduction in Parliament on 20 March 2024: The Tobacco and Vapes Bill was formally introduced at this date.
  • Second reading on 16 April 2024: The bill passed the second reading.
  • Committee stage completed on 30 April 2024: Detailed examination and amendments.
  • Report stage ongoing as of 30 May 2024: Further consideration and review.
  • Projected implementation from 2027: When sales prohibitions would take effect for current 15-year-olds.

Nicotine Pouch Ban for Minors

The main objective of the Tobacco and Vapes Bill relating to nicotine is prohibiting sales to youth:

  • Applies to under 18s across the UK: England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland
  • Targets growing trend of youth nicotine addiction: Nicotine pouches are now popular among adolescents.
  • Seeks to curb access: Outlawing retail sales to minors, even if products remain legal for adults.

This responds to rising youth addiction patterns through nicotine pouch use. Although not as harsh as an outright national prohibition, blocking underage sales specifically could still significantly curb adolescent nicotine intake.

Enforcement Measures and Fines

To actually enforce these new nicotine pouch rules, the bill lays out tougher penalties:

  • £100 fixed penalty notices: For retailers selling pouches or other tobacco/vapes to youth.
  • Potential £2,500 court fines: Over 20 times higher than current maximums.
  • 100% of proceeds retained locally: Funding enforcement of nicotine and vaping regulations in communities.

By letting local authorities retain 100% of fines up to £2,500, the new bill could change the enforcement calculation dramatically.

Public Support for Youth Nicotine Regulation

The legislation follows an in-depth public consultation on underage nicotine rules. Key statistics include:

  • Nearly 28,000 responses submitted to consultation
  • 63.2% agreeing with specific youth access measures

According to a survey conducted by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), 75% of the general public in England support the government’s smokefree 2030 ambition. Among smokers, 42% support the smokefree 2030 goal, while 27% oppose it. This indicates strong public support for smoke-free initiatives, though the specific figure of 75% pertains to the general public rather than smokers alone.

Funding for Effective Nationwide Enforcement

Critically, authorities will also have dedicated funding to enforce nicotine regulations:

  • £30 million per year budgeted: For underage and illicit tobacco/vape sales enforcement across the UK.

Previously councils reported lacking the resources to impose fines at scale. But with central government injecting £30 million annually, enforcement bodies will have substantial capacity to crack down on youth nicotine access.

What are nicotine pouches?

Nicotine pouches are small, tobacco-free pouches containing nicotine, flavourings and other ingredients that are designed to be placed under the lip. Once placed under the lip, the nicotine is released and absorbed into the body to give a nicotine hit, similar to other oral nicotine products like snus. The key difference is that nicotine pouches do not contain any tobacco whatsoever.

When asking "what are nicotine pouches", it is important to consider the reasons for their use. The main benefits of nicotine pouches are that they provide an alternative way to get a nicotine hit without smoking or the negatives associated with tobacco products. They come in a variety of flavours and strengths to suit different preferences.

How do nicotine pouches differ from snus?

The key difference between nicotine pouches and snus is that snus contains processed tobacco, while nicotine pouches are completely tobacco-free. However, in terms of usage (placing between gum and lip) and purpose (oral nicotine delivery), they can appear similar at first glance.

The main advantage nicotine pouches have over snus is avoiding exposure to tobacco and associated health risks and carcinogens. However, both products pose addiction risks because of their nicotine content.

How are nicotine pouches used?

Nicotine pouches are used by placing a pouch underneath the upper lip, between lip and gum, similar to how snus or dip tobacco is used. A single pouch can be kept in place for up to 30 minutes, during which the nicotine and flavourings are released into the mouth/body. As they don't require spitting, they can be used discreetly.

The main advantage of nicotine pouches is the convenience and accessibility of use. You simply place a pouch in your mouth and leave it there to get your nicotine hit, without the need to spit or have visible paraphernalia.

Who uses nicotine pouches?

Nicotine pouches have so far been most popular with those aged 35 to 54 years old, according to a 2022 United States market report by Statista. Awareness and use is rising, especially as a tobacco-free alternative to deliver nicotine.

The advantage of nicotine pouches is they appeal to tobacco users looking for less harmful alternatives. Their discreet use also suits professionals and contexts where visible tobacco use is undesirable.

Are nicotine pouches safe?

While nicotine pouches do not contain tobacco and associated carcinogens, the nicotine they contain can still be highly addictive and pose health risks. Nicotine affects the cardiovascular system, and nicotine pouches may pose particular risks for children, pregnant/breastfeeding women, and those with existing cardiovascular conditions. According to the NHS, more research is required as tobacco-free nicotine pouches are fairly new to the UK market.

The main risk to consider is developing a dependence through regular use. Those vulnerable to addiction should exercise caution with nicotine pouches, though they remain likely less harmful than tobacco products.

Author: Prime® Pouches Nicotine Pouch Specialist Department

Our in-house team of nicotine pouch specialists at Prime® Pouches includes lead writers Lisa, George, and Alex - all former smokers who have successfully switched to nicotine pouches. All of our writers at Prime® Pouches have a miniumum of a Bachelor's Degree in a related field and are passionate about helping readers quit smoking.