Media Release

Federal announcement to restrict marketing and sales of nicotine pouches a needed move to protect youth


In an important move toward protecting young people from becoming addicted to nicotine, the federal government has announced plans for new measures regarding nicotine pouches, including restricting advertising, flavours and place of sale. Minister of Health Mark Holland made the announcement yesterday, stating that he wants nicotine pouch products to be sold only in pharmacies from behind the counter. At present, in most provinces, nicotine pouches can be sold in any store, including convenience stores and gas stations. The Canadian Cancer Society applauds Minister Holland for this announcement.

In July of last year, a sister company of Imperial Tobacco Canada Ltd. was given approval to sell flavoured nicotine pouches to people of any age under the Natural Health Product Regulations. When these products hit shelves in October it was the first time in over 100 years that a nicotine product from a tobacco company was allowed to be legally sold to minors.

When launching nicotine pouches on the market, Imperial Tobacco aggressively promoted the products in ways that reached young people including through lifestyle advertising, social media and advertisements in convenience stores next to candy and chocolate bars.

“Federal restrictions on the sale and marketing of nicotine pouches will help prevent nicotine addiction among youth and protect them from tobacco industry marketing strategies,” says Rob Cunningham, Senior Policy Analyst, Canadian Cancer Society. “We need to ensure the dramatic rise in youth vaping does not happen all over again.”

Yesterday’s announcement comes weeks after British Columbia in February restricted the sale of nicotine pouches in the province to behind the counter in pharmacies. Quebec implemented a similar approach, where nicotine pouches are sold only in pharmacies, and the Quebec Order of Pharmacists has recommended sales only be 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 adequate restrictions. Later that month, Minister Holland committed to making changes.

The overwhelming majority of people who smoke began as teenagers or pre-teens. While progress has been made to reduce youth smoking in Canada, youth are now turning to other nicotine products in high numbers, including vaping. In the 2021-2022 school year, among high school students in grades 10-12 in Canada, 24% of youth were vaping, compared with 9% seven years earlier. With flavored nicotine pouches hitting the market last year, there’s a renewed risk of young people becoming 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.

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For more information, please contact:

Rob Cunningham
Senior Policy Analyst