Sales of flavoured nicotine pouches will be restricted to pharmacies as the B.C. government introduces measures to restrict youth access.
“Action is being taken in recognition of the concerning trend of youth using nicotine-cessation products recreationally, which poses serious health risks and undermines ongoing efforts to reduce tobacco use,” said the province.
Officials said buccal pouches come in flavoured varieties, which can appeal to youth.
“We want to prevent kids from coming into contact with nicotine, and we certainly want to avoid products that experts are concerned about whether they’re designed to appeal to children,” said Premier David Eby.
One such product is Zonnic, a pouch containing up to 4mg of nicotine, which B.C. officials note is the equivalent of three or four cigarettes.
“This is a product that should not be available to kids or used by kids, and should only be used by adults who are trying to stop smoking,” said Eby. “The problem is that Health Canada regulations do not capture this product, and it can be sold in convenience stores directly to children.”
Eby said the federal government is working to close loopholes and restrict access to the products, but the province will also take its own steps as well.
“Zonnic will only be available behind the pharmacist’s counter,” said Eby. “They would have to engage with a pharmacist, and we hope that is a barrier that will prevent young people from coming into contact with these products.”
B.C. government officials said this will allow pharmacists to inform those purchasing the pouches about the health risks associated with nicotine addiction.
“B.C. is taking proactive steps to ensure nicotine cessation products are used for their intended purpose – aiding individuals in quitting smoking and improving their overall health,” said Adrian Dix, B.C. Minister of Health. “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.”
Officials said young people are more likely to develop nicotine dependency.
“Nicotine affects memory and concentration, can alter brain development, reduce impulse control, and cause cognitive and behavioural issues in children and youth. Nicotine dependence can result in withdrawal and cause symptoms such as headaches, shakes, dizziness and feelings of anxiety or depression,” said the B.C. government.
–Files by Ryley McCormack, My East Kootenay Now