Czechia to ban sale of nicotine pouches to under-18 year olds

Politicians and experts claim the pouches, often used by teenagers, have dangerous health effects.

Thomas Smith ČTK

Written by Thomas SmithČTK Published on 15.02.2023 11:27:00 (updated on 15.02.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

The Czech Senate is today set to approve a ban on the sale of nicotine sachets, otherwise known as pouches, to those under the age of 18.

Long-term side effects

The sachets, which are placed between the gum and upper (or lower) lip, are designed to help people quit smoking – but their overuse can be dangerous. According to online medical portal WebMD, they can lead to forms of mouth cancer, gum disease, and a higher chance of getting a stroke.

According to the politicians who drafted the law to ban the pouches’ sales, Czechia has recorded two dozen cases of children overdosing after administering them. Several such cases led to loss of consciousness. 

About half of 5th and 6th graders (10- to 11-year-olds) in the Czech Republic already have experience with nicotine sachets.

The Ministry of Health has in the past complained that the sachets “could, and still can,” contain unlimited amounts of nicotine. The new amendment will therefore set a maximum limit on the amount of nicotine in one bag, which will now be 10 milligrams.

"Children don't know how many milligrams of nicotine are harmful, how big and strong the dose is.” - Addiction expert Adam Kulhánek from the 1st Faculty of Medicine at Charles University.

Experts also say that – paradoxically – the pouches can cause nicotine addiction rather than prevent it.


Limiting the pouches

This is not the first move that aims to crack down on nicotine sachets. In November last year, a decree was passed that regulates the type of packing used for the sachets in a bid to make them less attractive.

"The risk of becoming addicted to nicotine is huge for anyone, especially children and teenagers. According to experts, they are addictive,” explained member of parliament Martina Ochodnická, who is part of the government’s health care committee, late last year.

Should the law be passed today, it still needs to be signed by the president before it comes into force, which may be around the middle of this year.

The government will hope that the new law will help prevent – rather than spur – nicotine addiction in Czechia.

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