Deputies from the ANO movement and the Czech Ministry of Health want to amend legislation to prohibit the use of nicotine substitutes in pouches or candies which have been legally available to children for a long time.
The products do not contain tobacco, and so under current legislation, they are not among the products that would be restricted as is the case with cigarettes, other tobacco products, or alcohol.
Tighten up sales and advertising
However, some experts warn that it is better to leave such a substitute unrestricted than for children to smoke cigarettes.
According to a survey by the State Health Institute, most users of nicotine sachets last year were between the ages of 15 and 24. The bags contain a nicotine mixture and are thus 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, the national anti-drug coordinator, Jindřich Vobořil, does not fully agree with the ministry’s proposal.
“I am primarily in favor of making all alternatives to regular cigarettes more attractive than cigarettes themselves. I don’t think it’s a good idea to limit the flavors of nicotine pouches. What is good, on the other hand, is the restriction of sales to people under 18 years of age,” Vobořil told Právo.
Vobořil had already spoken to the ministry about the proposed restrictions.
“We’ve discussed whether there are flavors that target kids directly, but I think it would be too complicated to limit flavors. However, we agreed that the maximum nicotine content in the bags should be 10 to 12 milligrams,” Vobořil explained.
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.
Age restriction? Yes. Less nicotine? No
BAT, the manufacturer of VELO nicotine pouches, fully supports the age restriction on the sale of nicotine pouches. Until now, according to spokesman Tomáš Tesař, the company called on stores to sell the bags only to adults, but not everyone followed its call.
“Unfortunately, the proposal to reduce the maximum number of milligrams of nicotine is based on a lack of information. The user will indeed get approximately half of the nicotine from one bag than its declared value. For electronic cigarettes, the limit is 20 milligrams. The same value also makes sense for bags,” Tesař told Právo. According to him, limiting the maximum amount of nicotine in the bags would make them uncompetitive.