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nicotine pouches in iceland

According to data from the Directorate of Health, 34.2% of Icelanders between the ages of 18 and 69 smoked cigarettes on a daily basis in 1989. In 2022, 23 years later, that percentage had shrunk to an impressive 6.3%. This decline is not, however, so straightforward as it may appear, for the introduction of new […]

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Common for Children to be Admitted to Hospital with Nicotine Poisoning

There are several cases a week of children being admitted to the hospital with nicotine poisoning after ingesting nicotine pouches, RÚV reports. Ragnar Grímur Bjarnason, chief physician at the Children’s Hospital, says most poisonings occur at home and many parents don’t realise that nicotine is a strong toxic chemical that can have much more serious consequences for children than adults.

Snus, a moist tobacco powder, is illegal in Iceland, but nicotine pouches are very similar. These are small, hand-or premade sachets filled with loose tobacco powder and then held between the upper lip and the gum for extended nicotine release. Although cigarette smoking has declined in Iceland, nicotine pouches have seen an increased popularity in recent years, particularly among young people. In 2021, nearly a third of Icelanders aged 18-34 were using nicotine pouches on a daily or nearly daily basis.

See Also: Health Minister Presents Bill to Regulate Nicotine Pouch Sales

Nicotine poisonings among children are not a new phenomenon, says Ragnar Grímur. “Naturally, when everyone was vaping, the oils were being left out all over the place. They smelled good and were pretty colours. So at that time, we were getting a lot of those poisonings. They’re also flavoured and taste much better than cigarettes in an ashtray, which was the main cause of [nicotine] poisoning a few decades ago.”

Nicotine poisoning is very serious for children and can necessitate intensive care or even be life-threatening.

“Most people who have tried nicotine know what the most common reactions are,” says Ragnar Grímur. “There’s nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and discomfort. But in children, it can also have very serious effects on the central nervous system.”

Health Minister Presents Bill To Regulate Nicotine Pouch Sales

Minister of Health Svandís Svavarsdóttir

Minister of Health Svandís Svavarsdóttir has presented a bill to Parliament, suggesting that legislation on vaping will also cover nicotine products such as nicotine pouches. If the bill is passed, only people over the age of 18 will be able to purchase the nicotine pouches and producers won’t be able to advertise their product or decorate the packaging in a way that attracts children or teenagers.

The report accompanying the bill states that no legislation currently covers the use and distribution of nicotine pouches, even though they can contain a considerable amount of nicotine, which is classified as an addictive substance. The report also states that both importers and resellers have called for the products to be regulated, and as tobacco-free nicotine products have already made their mark on the Icelandic market, it’s important that the rules are clear. “Children have been known to use the products, which can be toxic if the amount of nicotine is high, making it important to secure the health and safety of children with clear regulation on the marketing and sale of such products,” the bill states.

The bill suggests that the sale of nicotine pouches in schools or other places meant for children’s sport or leisure will be forbidden as well as in healthcare institutions. Advertising the nicotine products or showing their consumption in advertisements will also be forbidden and they won’t be displayed for customers at stores where they are sold, although the bill proposes an exemption from the visibility ban for speciality stores selling nicotine pouches. Such an exemption is already in effect for vape shops. The bill further suggests that the nicotine pouch sales will be subject to the Icelandic Housing Authority and the number of products sold will have to be disclosed annually to the Directorate of Health. The Consumer Agency and the Icelandic Media Commission will monitor infractions of advertisement bans.