Media Release

BC Government makes important move to restrict the sale of nicotine pouches to better protect youth


The Canadian Cancer Society welcomes the BC government’s announcement to restrict the sale of nicotine pouch products to be sold only by a pharmacist. This measure aimed at preventing the sale of flavoured nicotine pouches to youth in British Columbia will help ensure that a new generation of youth do not become addicted to these nicotine pouches.  

Under the new measures, the sale of nicotine pouches – previously allowed to be sold anywhere including gas stations and convenience stores – can now only be sold at pharmacies and must be kept behind counters. Sold on a non-prescription basis, the new amendment to the Drug Schedules Regulation will allow pharmacists to inform those purchasing the pouches about the health risks associated with nicotine dependency and help prevent their recreational use by children and youth. The restrictions take effect immediately. 

BC joins Quebec in placing restrictions on the sale of nicotine pouches. In Quebec, nicotine pouches may only be sold in pharmacies, and the Quebec Order of Pharmacists has recommended that they only be sold from behind the counter.  

In November 2023, the Canadian Cancer Society joined with other health organizations to call on the federal government to take action and immediately close down the loophole that allows nicotine pouches to be sold without restrictions. At the time, Canada’s Health Minister Mark Holland committed to swiftly making changes, however no federal regulations have been put in place as of yet.  

“The introduction of nicotine pouches in Canada opened an alarming loophole that made it legal, for the first time over 100 years for a nicotine product from a tobacco company to be sold to minors,” says Charles Aruliah, Advocacy Manager, Canadian Cancer Society. “We applaud the Government of BC for shutting down the tobacco industry marketing strategies that would addict a new generation of young people to nicotine.” 

Last year, Imperial Tobacco was given approval to sell nicotine flavored pouches under the Natural Health Product Regulations to Canadians of any age. Since then, Imperial Tobacco has marketed these products aggressively in ways appealing to youth, including using lifestyle advertising. These products have been promoted in places where youth are exposed including TikTok, other social media and convenience stores. As an example, such promotions could be located in convenience stores near candy and chocolate bars. 

The overwhelming majority of people who smoke began as underage teenagers or pre-teens. While progress has been made to reduce youth smoking in BC, youth are now turning to other nicotine products in extremely high numbers, including vaping. In 2020-2022, among high school students in grades 10-12 in BC, 23% of youth said they had used an e-cigarette in the last 30 days, compared to 11% reporting that they did 7 years earlier. With the introduction of flavoured nicotine pouches last year, youth once again can become addicted to these new tobacco industry products. 


About the Canadian Cancer Society 
The Canadian Cancer Society works tirelessly to save and improve lives. We fund the brightest minds in cancer research. We provide a compassionate support system for all those affected by cancer, across Canada and for all types of cancer. As the voice for people who care about cancer, we work with governments to shape a healthier society. No other organization does all that we do to make lives better today and transform the future of cancer forever. 

Help us make a difference. Call 1-888-939-3333 or visit today. 


For more information, please contact:  
Michelle Bilton 
Communications Coordinator 
(437) 266-2493 Ext. 23128