‘Stay the hell away from our kids’: Minister slams nicotine pouches, seeks regulation

Click to play video: 'Holland warns tobacco companies to ‘stay the hell away’ from kids'
Holland warns tobacco companies to ‘stay the hell away’ from kids
WATCH: Minister of Health Mark Holland warns tobacco companies to ‘stay the hell away’ from kids – Mar 20, 2024

Canada’s health minister, Mark Holland, delivered a powerful message on Wednesday to tobacco companies attempting to market nicotine pouches to children: “Stay the hell away from our kids.”

Speaking to reporters in Ottawa, Holland argued that flavoured nicotine pouches are attracting young Canadians into a dangerous addiction and emphasized the need for stringent regulations to protect the youth from the harmful effects of tobacco products.

“I am seeking authority to restrict products so they are solely for the purposes of cessation,” he said. “We shouldn’t see flavours that are targeting kids, flavours like ‘Winter Berry Splash,’ Tropical Fruit,’ or whatever, that they’re putting out there. We all see through it, we know what the intention is, and it’s over.”

“Whatever dark corner the tobacco industry crawls and creeps into to go after our children, whatever loophole they think they can find, they will meet me like an iron wall.”

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Nicotine pouches, positioned between the upper lip and gum, resemble Swedish-style snus but lack the tobacco leaf. They are typically used as a smokeless alternative to traditional tobacco products.

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On Oct. 12, Health Canada approved the sale of flavoured nicotine pouches from Imperial Tobacco, called Zonnic. According to the press release from the company, the product is a pouch that can help adult smokers quit by delivering nicotine to the body.

Eric Gagnon, vice president for legal and external affairs at Imperial Tobacco Canada, told Global News in November 2023, he believes it’s “unfortunate” that nicotine pouches are being targeted, as the company has demonstrated to Health Canada that it helps adult smokers quit.

He believes if there are more regulations added to the nicotine pouch than “adult smokers are going to be the ones who are going to pay the price.”

Click to play video: 'Health Matters: Concerns raised about nicotine pouches'
Health Matters: Concerns raised about nicotine pouches

However, Holland argued that flavoured pouches serve no purpose in aiding adults to quit smoking. He said he firmly believes that these products only serve to entice children into tobacco use.

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“When it comes to cessation we want to see innovation, we want to see products that are going to get people off of nicotine and off of tobacco,” Holland said. “But that isn’t what happened. The tobacco industry, yet again, used a loophole to try and create innovation in the space of cessation… to create a brand new line of products that addicts, particularly kids products that are deadly to their health.”

He expressed his concern and emphasized the urgent need for immediate restrictions on flavoured pouches. He added that the only acceptable flavour should be aimed at promoting smoking cessation.

He said he has written the provinces and territories to work with them on this regulation, which he will seek to do “imminently.”

Holland is also seeking authority over the marketing of nicotine pouches and ensuring they are sold behind the counter.

“Before any marketing goes out the door, that marketing comports with the approved intent of the product,” he said. “It is reprehensible to me that the tobacco industry after being approved for a cessation product, would be putting out ads and information to try and addict kids.”

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