The Tobacco Act applies to nicotine pouches
According to a recent assessment by the Finnish Medicines Agency Fimea, certain nicotine pouch products are no longer classified as pharmaceuticals. According to the Medicines Act, Fimea decides whether a substance or product is classified as a pharmaceutical, if required. Nicotine pouches and nicotine snus generally refer to nicotine-containing products packaged into single-use pouches that, however, do not contain any tobacco.
As a rule, nicotine pouches meet the definition of a tobacco substitute as defined in the Tobacco Act. The term “tobacco substitute” means a product which corresponds to tobacco in its intended use but does not contain tobacco. The individual properties of each nicotine pouch determine whether the product is a tobacco substitute and what act applies to it.
The process to amend the Tobacco Act has started
The sale of tobacco substitutes is permitted with limitations. In business activities, such products cannot be sold or delivered to persons under 18 years of age, and their sale must be subject to self-monitoring, meaning that the seller is obligated to effectively supervise compliance with the age limits set for sales. The products are also subject to the display and marketing bans which means that any kind of sales promotion regarding nicotine pouches is prohibited. In addition, the products are subject to the purchase rebate ban which prevents volume discounts, bonuses and customer loyalty programmes. The seller of tobacco substitutes must be at least 18 years of age, and they must be present in the sales location in which the product is selected, paid and delivered to the customer.
The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health has already started the process to amend the Tobacco Act. The preparation is based on the proposal presented by the working group for the development of tobacco and nicotine policy, according to which nicotine pouches would be subject to the same provisions that apply to regular snus. In practice, this would mean a sales ban and import limitations.
Municipalities supervise compliance with the provisions on the sale, self-monitoring, marketing and display of tobacco substitutes in their respective areas. The National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health (Valvira) guides municipalities in their tasks and supervises the marketing of tobacco substitutes in Finland.
For further information at Valvira, please contact:
Reija Kauppi, legal counsel, tel. +358 295 209 429, 4–10 April 2023
Isabella Lencioni, Chief Specialist, tel. +358 295 209 482, from 11 April 2023