Mark Oates 29 April 2023


The recent decision by the Belgian government to ban the sale of nicotine pouches is complete and utter madness. The ban, which will come into effect on 1 October 2023, has been justified on the most ridiculous of grounds.

Firstly it is stated that they aim to prevent the known adverse health effects, however, there doesn’t seem to be any evidence that nicotine pouches have any more adverse health effects than coffee or nicotine patches!

It’s also suggested as an effort to prevent the potential adverse health effects of using such products. For which of course there is no evidence there is any! This is completely out of step with good policy making where evidence of harm being caused is surely a requirement. Before, banning something! 

They also wish to curb youth use. Something they could have done without killing adults by having them smoke if only they had just made sure age of sale laws were in place and police them. It’s not like the “Yooof” getting hold of fags or alcohol ever lead to them getting banned for alcohol. 

They also wanted to avoid negative impacts on tobacco control efforts. Quite what they mean by this I don’t know. The cynic in me suggests that they were worried about those well paid individuals in tobacco control not having any work to do after smoking had been made history by reduced risk nicotine products replacing them. We can’t have them lose their jobs, better to pretend that you are actually trying to reduce smoking but not actually do it, rather than follow the Swedish model and achieve smoke free (5% of the population smoking).

All this in a country where you can waltz around the streets with up to 3 gram of cannabis without fear of arrest. Let’s not forget that the cannabis will be smoked, causing what? You guessed it, lung cancer and other smoking related diseases. 

All this reasoning for the ban is flawed and ignores the potential benefits of nicotine pouches.

In case your new here nicotine pouches are small, discreet pouches filled with nicotine that can be placed between the upper lip and gum. They are smoke-free and odorless, making them an attractive alternative to smoking for those who want to quit or reduce their tobacco use. Nicotine pouches have been gaining popularity in recent years, particularly in Europe, where they are seen as a safer alternative to smoking.

However, the Belgian government’s decision to ban nicotine pouches ignores the fact that these products are significantly less harmful than smoking. Unlike cigarettes, which produce harmful smoke and tar, nicotine pouches do not involve combustion or produce harmful chemicals. Nicotine, while addictive, is not a carcinogen and does not cause lung cancer or other smoking-related diseases.