British Columbia has restricted the sale of nicotine pouches to drug stores, forcing users to consult a pharmacists prior to purchase, reports CBC.
“By limiting access to these products and ensuring they are dispensed by trained health-care professionals, our goal is to prevent their misuse, especially among young people for recreational purposes,” said Health Minister Adrian Dix.
The Canadian Cancer Society applauded the move, noting that while youth smoking rates in B.C. are down, other methods of nicotine consumption are up significantly.
“With the introduction of flavored nicotine pouches last year, youth once again can become addicted to these new tobacco industry products,” it said in a statement.
BAT subsidiary Imperial Tobacco Canada, manufacturer of the Zonnic nicotine pouch brand that was authorized for sale by Health Canada in October 2023, said British Columbia’s move would make it harder for smokers to quit.
“It is mindboggling that the only cessation product in BC that is currently stored behind the counter in convenience stores with retailers requiring age-verification is being targeted by today’s announcement,” said Eric Gagnon, vice-president, corporate and regulatory affairs at Imperial Tobacco Canada, in a statement.
“If today’s announcement was truly about protecting youth against nicotine, we question why Premier Eby isn’t putting the same restrictions on the other cessation products that contain nicotine and are available over the counter without proof-of-age,” he added.
In November, federal health minister Mark Holland said regulators had been “duped” and vowed to close the loophole that allowed Zonnic to be sold openly.
“There are very serious questions about what the tobacco industry is doing here and what their intention is. And it would seem that their intention is to addict new young people to nicotine, which is disgusting,” Holland said at the time.
Zonnic does not contain tobacco, and because the pouches contain less than four milligrams of nicotine each and are not inhaled, they do not fall under existing federal or provincial tobacco or vaping legislation.