Health Minister Mark Holland has vowed to swiftly close a regulatory loophole that allowed flavoured nicotine pouches to be sold without advertising or sales restrictions in Canada, a situation he labeled as “disgusting,” according to CBC News.
Health Canada had approved the sale of flavoured nicotine pouches, produced by Imperial Tobacco under the brand name Zonnic, as a smoking cessation product. However, these pouches, containing less than 4 mg of nicotine each, do not fall under existing federal or provincial tobacco or vaping legislation.
Minister’s Reaction and Promise
Health Minister Holland expressed strong disapproval of the tobacco industry’s actions, accusing them of intending to addict young people to nicotine. “The way that this was presented is that it was for the purposes of cessation. In their marketing and their approach, it exists in a completely different way. We were duped,” Holland said. He took responsibility for the oversight and promised a rigorous look at the approval processes for nicotine products.
Concerns from Health Groups and Provinces
National health groups have called for urgent regulation of these products, which appeared in gas stations and convenience stores across the country in October. Provinces like Nova Scotia and British Columbia have expressed concerns, with B.C.’s health minister Adrian Dix stating, “We’re concerned about it. We’ve raised it with the federal government and we would like and we would expect them to take action.”
The Tobacco Industry’s Stance
Imperial Tobacco Canada, the maker of Zonnic, insists that their product is not targeted at anyone under 18 and that they have demonstrated the efficacy and safety of Zonnic for helping people quit smoking. “We don’t target kids,” said Eric Gagnon, Imperial Canada’s vice president of legal and external affairs.
Impact on Youth
The situation is particularly concerning for young people, as Dr. Nicholas Chadi, a Montreal pediatrician, pointed out, “Young people can become addicted to nicotine within weeks.” Reports of the product circulating in high schools and its appeal to teenagers underline the urgency of the issue.