Children in the UK are allowed to buy powerful nicotine powders in the form of candies, it has been recently revealed. Nicotine is the main active ingredient in cigarettes.
Nicotine powders are sold in chewing-gum-sized pouches and placed in the mouth where they dissolve and absorbed by the body. They are marketed by major tobacco companies such as Altria and Philip Morris and sales are expected reach about US$ 26.80 Billion by 2032–at least according to one financial analyst.
As they are not legally classified as tobacco products in the UK they can currently be sold to children over the counter in the same way as candies or chocolates.
Just like some controversial vape products, some brands feature flavours that are obviously designed appeal to children like ‘gummy bear’ or ‘strawberry vanilla candy’ in brightly coloured packaging that are stamped with cartoon characters.
Some online sellers are promoting the products as a ‘healthier’ alternative to vaping and claim their products offer a more discreet way for users to get their nicotine hit.
Experts and anti-smoking groups today called on the UK Government to close the loophole allowing the products to be sold to children.
They warned that attempts to wean children off nicotine by cracking down on vapes could fail if other sources remained available.
Nicotine powders were originally developed as a smoking cessation product but have since become a distinct, and powerful, recreational product in their own right.
Newspaper investigators in England found some candy flavours of the powders being sold online that contained nearly 33mg of nicotine per pouch.
For comparison, a single cigarette contains between 8 to 20mg of nicotine.
Candy-flavoured nicotine powders are sold in tubs containing just 20 pouches for as little as £4.50, meaning children can buy a huge quantity of nicotine relatively cheaply.
Alice Wiseman, policy lead for addiction for the Association of Directors of Public Health, told The Times: ‘The sale of these extremely harmful and addictive nicotine pods to children and young people is completely unacceptable.
‘There is currently no regulation in place to stop these products being sold to under-18s, which leaves them vulnerable to the targeted marketing used to entice them into buying and using such a damaging product.
‘Greater regulation needs to be introduced by the government to protect children and young people, to stop nicotine pods and other similar harmful products being advertised as something fun and appropriate for a person under the age of 18.’
She also called for more research to learn more about long term health impacts on nicotine powder usage.
With the Government poised to ban disposable vapes to curb nicotine addiction in children, there are fears young people could resort to alternative sources to get their fix.
While sales of e-cigarettes to under-18s are banned, latest data suggests more than a tenth of 11 to 17-year-olds in the UK have already tried vaping.
Many websites selling the powders already tout the benefits of using them compared to vapes.
Nicotine pouches are subject to a variety of regulations around the world, from outright bans to partial or selective regulation, depending on how they are defined and classified by governments. In many cases no regulation is in place.
Sources: Daily Mail, Yahoo! Finance.