Introducing Considerate Pouchers
These are exciting times across the UK and Europe in the battle to end smoking. Nicotine replacement products (NRP), like snus, nicotine pouches, and e-cigarettes, have emerged in recent years. These products offer smokers credible and effective methods to quit cigarettes.
After a recent Ipsos poll of Swedish ex-smokers, the always excellent We Are Innovation outlined three core requirements for products that help people quit smoking. They are:
• Availability: Products need to be easy to buy and available in preferred strengths and flavours
• Affordability: They should be cheaper than cigarettes
• Acceptability: NRPs should have the support of governments and healthcare bodies.
In light of Sweden’s projected achievement of “smoke-free” targets this year, the international community is waking up and taking notice.
Products like snus and nicotine pouches have played a considerable role in these impressive figures. Ensuring they are available, affordable, and acceptable is vital if the UK and EU want to follow suit: Enter Considerate Pouchers.
What is Considerate Pouchers?
Sweden’s low smoking prevalence is just one part of the picture. The country’s permissive attitude to snus and nicotine pouches has also contributed to the following:
• Cancer rates are 40% less than in other European countries
• Smoking-related deaths are 22% lower than EU averages
Considerate Pouches is a platform designed to help promote the Swedish model across the UK and EU. It’s the brainchild of three passionate smoking harm reduction activists: Mark Oates, Richard Crosby, and Carissa During.
The platform was born from the idea of ensuring that smokers have access to safer products. Nicotine pouches are far less harmful than cigarettes. They can make a massive difference in the lives of smokers, allowing them to live longer, healthier lives.
Despite the obvious benefits of nicotine pouches, things aren’t always that simple in the world of politics and legislation. Many NRPs face an incredible amount of scrutiny from lawmakers.
In the early 90s, the EU banned snus across Europe while still allowing cigarettes to be sold freely. Judging by Swedish smoking prevalence statistics, that decision has cost an untold number of lives. We can’t let this happen again.
Over-regulation and outright bans are a credible threat to nicotine pouches. Considerate Pouchers are active in campaigns like #MakingSmokingHistory that promote safer products and battle the increasingly hostile and irrational agenda-driven groups that seek to spread misinformation about alternative nicotine products.
Smoking disproportionally affects the lives of lower-income communities. Time and again, technocrats and lawmakers look down on these individuals with scant regard for their needs or concerns. We can’t keep letting them get away with it.
Advocacy groups like Considerate Pouches exist to ensure:
• Everyone has a right to healthier alternatives to smoking
• Current smokers have the information they need to make better choices
• Misleading and prejudiced narratives about cigarette alternatives don’t go unchecked
• We can all learn from successful models like Sweden
• Politicians take an evidence-based approach to cigarette alternative regulations
• UK and EU citizens have a way to have their voices heard on harm reduction and cigarette alternatives
I caught up with three founders to ask them some questions about nicotine pouches.
What can the average citizen do to reduce the likelihood of bans or over-regulation?
The most important thing the average citizen can do is to speak up on the fact that allowing nicotine pouches is important for saving people from dying in smoke related illnesses. Tell your politicians, tell your friends and family about how nicotine pouches has changed your health for the better, or the health of someone close to you. If you live in a country where it’s banned, speak up about the low amount of smoking related deaths seen in countries who allow them – such as Sweden.
What would sensible nicotine pouch regulation look like?
A sensible nicotine pouch regulation would first of all include an age regulation, so that people under the legal age can’t buy it. Furthermore, it should allow different flavours, as it’s an important factor in making people switch. Nicotine pouches should also be kept available, and affordable. In regard to taxation, all nicotine and tobacco products should be taxed in accordance with how dangerous they are. Hence, nicotine pouches for example should be taxed lower than combustible cigarettes.
What would you say to a smoker who wants to give up but is reluctant to try nicotine pouches?
You have nothing to lose. Millions of people have already tried it and loved it. If you switch, the health benefits will be tremendous – and there are a bunch of different alternatives out there with different strengths and flavours, so you can find one that will suit you. If you find yourself not liking it, then at least you’ve tried.
How have nicotine pouches helped you?
Vaping never fully worked for me – in most part due to various smoking bans. For me the real benefit of nicotine pouches has been the ability to use them discreetly in situations (typically indoors) when you can’t vape. They’re fantastic for the office – and great for long-haul travel!
How do you think the UK and EU can meet their “smoke-free” targets?
I think if UK and European governments are serious about meeting smoke-free targets – a sensible, science based approach to the problem must be taken – with tobacco harm reduction products treated very differently to combustable cigarettes. In my view the UK have done particularly well in dealing with e-cigarettes with sensible legislation and their incorporation into harm reduction programmes. I’d hope the same logic was applied to other products – namely nicotine pouches.
Nicotine pouches seem to be chipping away at the market share of snus in Sweden. How do you see the future of snus?
Being based in the UK – I’m unfortunately denied snus as a smoking alternative but I personally view nicotine pouches as an evolution of snus – much like vapes were to the traditional cigarette. I hope the tradition long continues in Sweden – but hope to see more of that expertise applied to nicotine pouches. At a recent GFN event – to was great to see Swedish Match focus on pouch products.
Who is your smoking harm reduction hero? / Who should we follow in the space?
There are some great minds in the harm reduction space who volunteer their time to try and reduce smoking rates and the subsequent harms caused by smoking. Louis Ross the Chair of the New Nicotine Alliance is one such person who comes to mind. A tireless champion who worked to instigate the use of E-Cigarettes into Leicestershire smoke free services.
Curt Enzell is perhaps one of the most fascinating of heroes. He invented the portion snus. This made the product much more accessible to consumers, rather than having loose snus which was much more difficult to use, it was now in a tea bag. This opened up the number of consumers who were interested in using it and perhaps by accident this led to millions of lives in Sweden being saved.
What political party or politician in your region is most supportive of nicotine pouches? And who is the least supportive?
At the moment not a huge number of politicians are aware of this wonder product and its ability to save millions of lives. One that sticks out for me is Adama Afriyie MP, he is very supportive of reducing the harm caused by smoking. He is an ex-smoker and he gets it.
Is there anything you’d change about the current nicotine pouch industry?
I hope the industry maintains a professional approach and doesn’t jeopardise the product’s future by making mistakes that could attract damaging attention. Ultimately we need good regulation in this sector to prevent bad practice and make sure that pouches can go on to save the millions of lives each year across the globe who die prematurely from smoking.
And finally a question for each –
What’s your favourite nicotine pouch flavour?
Carissa – I prefer fruity flavours such as citrus or berries, but every now and then I like a bit of sweet mint.
Richard – Bergamot Wildberry – which is a fantastic citrus blend – or anything fruity. Not really a huge fan of the mint flavours.
Mark – My go to snus is Göteborgs Rapé, it was the first snus I tried and continues to by my snus of choice. At the moment my after dinner snus is Swedish Matches No. 30 Small Batch Spicy Guava, it is delicious and provides a nice kick later in its use.
In terms of Nicotine Pouches Velo’s tropic breeze and Nordic Spirits Bergamot Wildberry are both great during a summer’s day, perhaps at a festival or with a gin and tonic in hand.
Read more about Considerate Pouchers here – https://consideratepouchers.org.
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