Health advocates alarmed by potential nicotine sales to children

Lyft nicotine pouch. Image via Wikimedia Commons
Lyft nicotine pouch. Image via Wikimedia Commons

A national coalition of health advocates is expressing concern over Health Canada’s recent approval of the sale of nicotine pouches.

The Canadian Cancer Society, Canadian Lung Association, Action on Smoking and Health, Coalition Québécoise pour le contrôle du tabac, Heart & Stroke Foundation, and Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada say that the approval creates a loophole that could lead to the sale of flavoured nicotine products to minors.

The coalition notes although selling these items to children is prohibited, there are no consequences for retailers who disregard this regulation.

“This is yet another example of this government failing to look carefully enough at details,” said Laila Goodridge, Member of Parliament for Fort McMurray – Cold Lake.

“Our common-sense conservative team will bring this very serious concern forward to prevent youth from being put at risk.”

On July 18, 2023, a sister company of Imperial Tobacco received approval to distribute flavoured nicotine pouches in accordance with the Natural Health Product Regulations. These products contain nicotine but not tobacco.

The health coalition asserts that Imperial Tobacco is now actively promoting and selling these nicotine pouches in convenience stores and gas stations, with in-store promotions potentially placed near candy or chocolate bars.

“Imperial Tobacco is using classic cigarette lifestyle advertising approaches to promote nicotine pouches, with ads featuring happy young people,” says Flory Doucas, Co-Director and spokesperson of the Coalition québécoise pour le contrôle du tabac.

The coalition is urging Health Canada and the federal government to take immediate action to close this regulatory gap.

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