Helsinki, Finland – The newly-elected Coalition Government in Finland has published its draft coalition programme, signaling a significant shift in the government’s position on nicotine pouches. Led by the centre-right National Coalition Party, the government has announced that it will not pursue a ban on the sale of nicotine pouches. Instead, it intends to introduce strict regulations aimed at curbing youth usage.

This development marks a departure from the previous Finnish Government, led by the Social Democratic Party, which had notified the European Commission of a draft Bill in April seeking to ban the sale of nicotine pouches and impose restrictions on their import into Finland. The proposed ban came in response to a reassessment by the Finnish Medicines Agency (Fimea) of its previous regulatory opinion on nicotine pouches. (The authority made it clear that they do not consider nicotine pouches a medicinal product)

The National Coalition Party, along with the right-wing Finns Party, the Swedish People’s Party (Centre), and the Christian Democrats (centre-right), have agreed on a draft programme that would bring nicotine pouches under the scope of the Tobacco Act. While not implementing a ban, the proposal aims to introduce new restrictions on flavors, nicotine limits, and licensing to prevent youth exploitation.

According to the draft programme, the retail sale of nicotine pouches would require a permit, and the products would be subject to nicotine limits in line with neighboring countries. Additionally, only flavors intended for adult consumers would be allowed in the pouches, aiming to ensure that they do not appeal to youth.

The fate of the draft programme now rests with the newly elected Finnish Parliament, which will need to vote on the appointment of Petteri Orpo, the leader of the National Coalition Party, as the new Prime Minister. Subsequently, parliamentary approval will be required for the draft programme, paving the way for the Government to begin drafting legislation to enact the proposed regulations.

This policy shift demonstrates an attempt to strike a balance between public health concerns and the rights of adult consumers. Pouchforum stays cautiously optimistic since the text on nicotine pouches in the draft coalition outlines in many ways overlap with the kind of regulation we advocate for. As Finland awaits parliamentary votes and subsequent legislative action, the regulation of nicotine pouches within the country and its potential impact on the broader tobacco and nicotine products market remain uncertain. The Government’s commitment to preventing youth exploitation while allowing the continued sale of nicotine pouches signals a nuanced approach to this complex issue.

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