Deputies from the ANO party and the Czech Ministry of Health want to change the law to outlaw the use of nicotine substitutes in pouches or candies, which have long been lawfully available to youngsters.
Because the goods do not include tobacco, they are not banned under existing regulations in the same way as cigarettes, other tobacco products, or alcohol are.
Some specialists, however, advise that it is preferable to allow such a substitute to be unfettered than to allow children to smoke cigarettes.
According to a State Health Institute report, the majority of nicotine sachet users last year were between the ages of 15 and 24. The bags contain a nicotine combination and so serve as an alternative to cigarettes.
The amendment to the law is mainly about limiting sales to people under 18 years of age.
“It is impossible for the sale of nicotine pouches to people under 18 to work here,” Marek Novák (ANO), who is presenting the amendment, told the Právo newspaper. “Nicotine is a highly addictive and health-damaging substance,” he added.
According to Novák, Lyft nicotine sachets are attractive to children due to their packaging. “It looks like a candy, and not like a nicotine product,” the Czech lawmaker said, who also recently submitted a proposal to amend the Advertising Act.
“We want to stop this advertising. When you come to a gas station and you see a banner in front of you that says ‘free your hands, take a bag,’ it doesn’t seem right to me,” Novák said.
The Ministry of Health is preparing a decree that would limit the different flavors of the bags and the maximum nicotine content in them.
“We want the restriction to apply as soon as possible because it is quite a problem that our predecessors managed to remove this from the law. Another problem is that minors are using them,” ministry spokesman Ondřej Jakob told Právo.
However, Jindich Voboil, the national anti-drug coordinator, does not entirely support the ministry’s suggestion.
“My primary goal is to make all alternatives to ordinary cigarettes more appealing than cigarettes themselves.” Limiting the flavors of nicotine pouches is not a good idea in my opinion. What is positive, on the other hand, is that sales to those under the age of 18 are prohibited,” Voboil told Právo.
Voboil has already discussed the suggested limits with the minister.
“We debated if there are flavors that are specifically aimed at children, but I believe that limiting flavors would be too complicated.” “We agreed, however, that the maximum nicotine level in the bags should be 10 to 12 milligrams,” added Voboil.
At the end of June, Vobořil published an action plan in which he proposed a special tax on nicotine products. “The government does not want to raise taxes, but this would be a new consumption tax, which in this case has the same logic as the cigarette tax. At the same time, this tax must be lower than for cigarettes,” said Vobořil, who also wants to spark a debate on whether part of the income from taxed addiction products should go to the prevention and treatment of addicts.
BAT, the maker of VELO nicotine pouches, strongly supports the age restriction on nicotine pouch sales. According to spokeswoman Tomá Tesa, the business previously asked merchants to sell the bags only to adults, but not everyone complied.
“Unfortunately, the recommendation to limit the maximum amount of nicotine allowed is based on a lack of information.” The user will receive around half of the nicotine stated amount from one bag. The limit for electronic cigarettes is 20 milligrams. “The same price makes sense for bags as well,” Tesa told Právo. Limiting the maximum amount of nicotine in the bags, he claims, would render them uncompetitive.