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The New Reality for B.C.’s Nicotine Pouch Users

Recently, British Columbia introduced new rules for nicotine pouches. Instead of being available at places like convenience stores or gas stations, pouches are now kept behind pharmacy counters. You don’t need a prescription, but they’re not as easy to grab as before.

This change aims to keep these pouches away from minors, but it also makes it harder for smokers looking to quit. Having these pouches within easy reach, especially in spots where cigarettes are sold, could serve as a constant reminder for smokers that there are healthier alternatives out there.

Concerns about minors getting attracted to these products are valid, but with only a small fraction of non-smokers showing interest, stricter rules like age checks and keeping them behind counters can help. This way, we can safeguard minors while still supporting adults who want to quit smoking.

The stakes are high. Lung cancer, largely driven by smoking, is the top cause of cancer deaths in Canada, claiming over 20,000 lives each year. Rather than making quit-smoking tools harder to get, we should be looking for ways to make them more accessible.

The approach to nicotine pouches varies globally. Unfortunately, in countries with high smoking rates, like Brazil, Iran, and Thailand, pouches are regulated just like cigarettes. Meanwhile, Sweden stands out as a model for effectively reducing the risks associated with smoking, widely embracing safer alternatives such as Snus, nicotine pouches and vaping with great success. This is why Sweden achieved the lowest lung cancer rates across the continent. It’s time for Canada to take a cue from Sweden’s playbook and adopt similar harm reduction strategies to combat smoking-related health issues.If you’re in favor of making nicotine pouches available in B.C., there’s a petition you can sign to show your support.

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