Social Democrats TD Jennifer Whitmore has called for the urgent regulation of nicotine pouches and for an analysis of the extent of their use by those under the under the age of 18.

Deputy Whitmore, who is the party’s spokesperson on children, said:

“These pouches come in the form of small bags and contain highly addictive nicotine, among other ingredients. The product, which is placed under the user’s lip and up against the gum, is sometimes branded as a safer alternative to smoking. In reality, they should be viewed as a gateway to nicotine dependency.

“Much like vaping, we have seen increased use of these pouches by young people under the age of 18. They pose a serious risk to the health and wellbeing of children and are contributing to rising nicotine addiction in Ireland.

“Cynically, the pouches are available in a variety of child-friendly flavours to make them attractive to younger people.

“When I raised this issue with the Minister for Health previously, I was informed that there is currently no regulation of this highly addictive product. It is also troubling that the sale of nicotine pouches is not being tracked, which makes it difficult to assess the age profile of users.

“It is also significant that the Association of Principals and Assistant Principals have called for the HSE to issue an advisory note on the use of nicotine pouches due to their prevalence in our schools.

“I have written to the Taoiseach to outline my concerns and also raised the matter with him in the Dáil today. I note his commitment to raise this important issue with the Minister for Health and will await his response with interest.

“With the Government signalling its intention to raise the legal age of purchasing cigarettes to 21, it seems counterintuitive to allow products such as nicotine pouches to be sold in a regulatory vacuum.”

May 14, 2024

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