Richard Crosby 3 August 2023


The Guardian recently published an article that I can’t entirely disagree with – it draws attention to the fact that nicotine pouches regulation is missing for under-18s – but seems to miss the big picture entirely. Not once does the article explain this is a harm-reduction product.

Influencers and freebies: Big Tobacco’s push to sell nicotine pouches in UK: Health experts raise concerns over marketing for flavoured oral sachets that can legally be sold to under-18s

The article claims that tobacco companies are exploiting a legal loophole to promote flavoured nicotine pouches as a glamorous lifestyle product. They are using Instagram campaigns, music festivals, promo parties, and young influencers to advertise the pouches. 

, The Guardian makes some good points… but massively misses the bigger picture., The Daily Pouch
Photo by Swenico on Unsplash

Health experts and campaigners are concerned that the companies can position the pouches as a trendy lifestyle product because they are largely unregulated. Unlike e-cigarettes, nicotine pouches are not classified as tobacco-related products in the UK and can be legally sold to under-18s. The marketing tactics have raised concerns among experts who believe that the regulations are inadequate.

This is something consumer advocacy group Considerate Pouchers has written to the government about is equally concerned –

To quote directly from the article with regard to The Department of Health’s response to The Guardian – 

The Department of Health said it was aware of the concerns but had no current plans to regulate further. “The use of nicotine pouches remains low in England and while there are no current plans to regulate them any further, we will continue to keep this under review,” it said.

I also recently wrote an article which touches on why these products really don’t have the youth appeal that seems to be claimed.

The Guardian are quite right to draw attention to the lack of regulation in this space – but to entirely forget the fact these products have helped countless people stop smoking – a deadly habit – is almost criminal.

When talking about available flavours the article quotes ‘watermelon, strawberry and mint’… the one most likely to find on a shop shelf last… I’m also yet to try watermelon and I’ve been using pouches for a while!

I can understand why people might have concerns about the possible impact the (extremely limited) marketing activities of tobaccos companies might have – but The Guardian doesn’t seem concerned with actually looking at what the product is – its benefits and how it can form part of a life-saving smoking cessation product. It’s a hit job – picking off easy targets with little to no actual thought beyond boilerplate arguments too often seen applied to vaping.