Institute: Pouches Safer Than Smoking

    Photo: Swedish Match

    In the statement published on Oct. 7, 2022, the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) confirmed that tobacco-free nicotine pouches can reduce health risks compared to smoking. To protect consumers, the BfR recommends regulation of the manufacture, presentation and sale of nicotine pouches.

    In a detailed study on the material composition of tobacco-free nicotine pouches performed in August 2022, BfR scientists found that aside from nicotine, the pouches contain no substances presenting health concerns. In some samples, however, they detected traces of tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNA) similar to those found in medical nicotine-replacement products.

    The BfR scientists did express concern about inadequate labeling and missing warnings on some products.

    “These critical comments can be resolved in principle,” said Jan Muecke, CEO of the German Association of the Tobacco Industry and Novel Products (BVTE), in a statement. “It would make a lot of sense to set appropriate limits for nicotine and TSNAs and to introduce binding regulations on warnings and labeling obligations. A high level of consumer protection must be guaranteed.”

    Muecke said the BVTE would welcome regulation of nicotine pouches under tobacco laws. Contrary to their counterparts, other European countries, German regulators treat nicotine pouches as food products. As a result, they are illegal in Germany.

    Muecke said he hoped the BfR assessment would prompt regulators to rethink. “We want tobacco-free nicotine pouches to provide consumers of tobacco and nicotine products with another potentially less harmful alternative,” he said.