School kids like nicotine sachets, and the state steps in

Nicotine substitutes in sachets or sweets have been legally available to children for some time. Users put them under their lower or upper lip.

This releases nicotine into the body through the mucous membranes, which in some people increases performance. The sachets do not contain tobacco, so under current legislation, they are not one of the products that would be restricted in any way, as is the case with cigarettes, other tobacco products, or alcohol.

An amendment to the law proposed by a group of MPs from the ANO movement seeks to prevent minors from making legal purchases. The Ministry of Health also wants to intervene.

Tighten up sales and advertising

According to a survey by the State Institute of Health, most users of nicotine sachets last year were aged 15–24. The sachets contain a nicotine mixture and are thus an alternative to cigarettes.

The amendment to the law, submitted by MEP Marek Novák (ANO) along with others, is primarily aimed at restricting sales to people under 18.

“It is impossible to sell nicotine sachets to people under 18 to work here. Nicotine is a highly addictive and harmful substance,” Novák said. According to him, nicotine sachets, so-called lifts, are attractive to children because of their packaging.

“It looks like candy, not a nicotine product,” Novák said. He also recently submitted a proposal to amend the law on advertising.

The Health Ministry is preparing a decree that would restrict the different flavors of sachets or the maximum nicotine content in them.

“We want this restriction to come into force as soon as possible because it is quite a problem that our predecessors managed to remove from the law. Another problem is that minors use it,” Ondřej Jakob, a spokesman for the ministry, said.

Available alternatives

However, National Drug Coordinator Jindřich Vobořil (ODS) disagrees with the ministry’s proposal. “I am primarily in favor of making all alternatives to regular cigarettes more attractive than cigarettes themselves. I do not think it is good to restrict the flavors of nicotine sachets. What is good, on the contrary, is to restrict sales to people under 18,” Vobořil said.

An action plan in which Vobořil proposes a special tax on nicotine products will be published and discussed at the end of June.

Yes, there is an age limit; no, there is a nicotine reduction.

BAT, which manufactures VELO nicotine sachets, fully supports age restrictions on selling nicotine sachets. According to its spokesman Tomáš Tesar, it has urged retailers to sell the sachets only to adults, but not all have followed its call.

“With nicotine sachets, nothing burns, and nothing is inhaled, which makes it possible to reduce the pollutant content by up to 99 percent compared to cigarettes. Meanwhile, more than 100,000 users have switched from cigarettes to sachets and have now either stopped smoking or reduced their cigarette consumption,” Tesar added.

The Czech Republic should follow the example of Sweden, where nicotine sachets have only five percent of smokers and the lowest incidence of lung cancer in Europe.