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Substance use liaison welcomes new restrictions on youth access to nicotine pouches

The province has announced new measures aimed at restricting youth access to a nicotine product that has become an increasing concern across province. 

Flavoured nicotine pouch products, marketed as smoking cessation aids, will no longer be available in convenience stores in B.C. and will now be sold only by a pharmacist on a non-prescription basis. Individuals wishing to purchase these products will need to consult a pharmacist, allowing them to provide information about the health risks associated with nicotine dependency.

iStock-1366456750.jpgiStock imageWhen used as intended, buccal nicotine pouches can be used as a nicotine-replacement therapy product to help people reduce nicotine dependency. However, public health experts have identified the concerning trend of youth using nicotine-cessation products recreationally.

Prior to the Feb. 7 announcement, such products have been readily available for youth to purchase without any age restriction. Packaged in colourful containers and featuring flavours such as bubble-gum and cotton candy, the pouches have become an enticing access point to nicotine for curious young people.

“Today’s announcement is very exciting to everyone who understands the issue,” said Surrey Schools substance use liaison Colette Lees, who spoke at the provincial press conference. “These products, often disguised as smoking cessation aids or flavored chewing tobacco, pose a significant threat to the health and well-being of our young population.”

While the products have been classified as cessation aids similar to nicotine gum or patches, Lees said the pouches have had the opposite effect, instead acting as an entry point for youth to try nicotine. 

“The allure of nicotine products packaged in enticing flavors and marketed as harmless alternatives to smoking has proven to be a huge challenge for our youth,” she said. “Many of them are unaware of the addictive nature of nicotine and the long-term health consequences associated with its use.”

With these new restrictions, Lees is hopeful that youth will understand that the products can carry the same harms as smoking and chewing tobacco.

“This is an important step towards creating a future where our young people are protected and empowered to make informed choices and lead healthy, fulfilling lives,” she said.

The Surrey Schools substance use liaison program helps connect students and families with supports for anyone struggling with substance use. 

To learn more about Surrey Schools substance use liaisons, or to contact one directly, click here

Read the full BC Government news release here.

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