Nicotine pouches have enabled Sweden to reach "smoke-free" status, and have shown how safer nicotine products could help reduce the global health burden associated with smoking and high-risk tobacco products. In this episode, Carissa Düring discusses the rise of nicotine pouches and how the Swedish approach could serve as a model for the rest of the world.
Chapters:0:00 - Intro with Joanna Junak 1:17 - The nicotine pouch revolution with Carissa Düring 1:51 - Smoke-free Sweden 2:26 - Nicotine pouches: a safer alternative to smoking 3:03 - Europe not-so-united about nicotine pouches 3:46 - Misinformation influences nicotine pouch debate 5:58 - Communication: a vital component of THR 6:49 - Nicotine pouch ban pandemonium 7:53 - Closing remarks
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Joanna Junak: Hello and welcome. I'm Joanna Junak and this is GFN News on GFN.TV. Nicotine pouches have the potential to make a significant contribution to tobacco harm reduction, as they contain no tobacco and require no combustion. Nicotine pouches offer people who use tobacco products the chance to switch to products which are significantly safer for their health. Why do some countries recommend nicotine pouches as a good alternative to quit smoking and some don't? Joining us today to discuss the nicotine pouches issue is Carissa Düring, the Director of Considerate Pouchers Swede - a global consumer advocacy group dedicated to promoting a smoke-free world and consumers' rights to alternative products. She's an active advocate for nicotine pouches as she's seen the success of these products in helping Sweden become smoke-free. Hello Carissa, thank you for joining us today. First, can you tell us briefly about yourself?
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Carissa Düring: So I work for Considerate Pouchers as a part-time job. I do actually psychology on the side but I live in Sweden and I've seen a huge change among the young generation switching from smoking to nicotine patches or snus. I've seen it in the older generation too and this has cost me a lot of interest, honestly, and it's something I think is very important and should be spread throughout the world. So that's why I went into this field.
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Joanna Junak: Sweden is on the right path to become the first smoke-free country. How popular are nicotine pouches in Sweden? And who is using them?
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Carissa Düring: So nicotine pouches, they kind of exploded in popularity since their market introduction in 2016. And they're especially of interest to women. We've had snus for 200 years, and they've mainly been appealing to men. But since 2016, we've seen a huge decrease in smoking rates amongst women who are choosing to use nicotine pouches instead.
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Joanna Junak: So what are the nicotine pouches and what's the difference between snus and nicotine pouches?
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Carissa Düring: All right, so they are very similar in how they look, but the main difference here is that snus, they contain tobacco, and nicotine pouches do not contain tobacco. So that kind of sets them apart, both in flavoring, because snus has a very distinct tobacco flavor, but also legislation-wise, while snus, because it contains tobacco, is prohibited within the European Union, and nicotine pouches, they are not.
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Joanna Junak: Ok, so let's go back to the nicotine pouches. How are nicotine pouches regulated around Europe? And which countries are banning them?
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Carissa Düring: So the legislation looks very different across Europe since there is no unified legislation in place yet, at least, while there are discussions on placing such a regulation. Countries like Belgium and Netherlands have chosen to opt in for a complete ban on nicotine pouches. And unfortunately, a lot of countries are also looking at things like flavor regulations, etc., which would take away a central component to the success of nicotine pouches.
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Joanna Junak: It looks like many European countries are afraid of alternative nicotine products. What are the reasons for this?
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Carissa Düring: Yeah, I think there are some main reasons for this that usually comes up in the discussion. I mean, first of all, we have lack of knowledge. It's a pretty new product in the European context, and there is a lot of misinformation and confusion about its content, its dangers, but also its benefits. its dangers, but also its benefits. And I think flavors too is a huge part. Politicians are afraid that they will be appealing to young people. And I mean, it's a legitimate concern and one that should be taken very seriously. However, it's not a legitimate reason to ban nicotine pouches. Sweden has dealt with these questions for several years and should act as a role model for countries looking for a sensible legislation. And it's fully possible to regulate nicotine pouches in a way that minimizes the risks for young people and at the same time help adult people to stop smoking. And of course we have some idea of purism where people talk about the fact that nicotine pouches or nicotine in itself is not completely without risk. And while that is true, that's not a reason for why we should ban it. People consume nicotine for a bunch of reasons, which just as adults choose to engage in other things that can pose some kind of risks, such as driving a car, eating unhealthy or drinking alcohol. And at the end, you have to weigh the benefits against the risks. And when it comes to nicotine pouches, the benefits are huge. I mean, the risk relative to cigarettes, it's 99.8% lower. Especially when it comes to the deadly diseases that are caused by cigarettes. So I think those are the main concerns. And I think countries are just not sure how to approach this product, which is unfortunate because Sweden has had this product for 200 years. We know how to regulate it. We know how to deal with it. And it's the main ingredient in our success towards becoming a smoke-free society.
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Joanna Junak: And what's the main reason that people switch from high risk products to nicotine pouches?
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Carissa Düring: Well, I think people in and of themselves, they are sensible and they are rational in a way that they want to, they want to be safe and they want to be healthy. They want to make healthy decisions for themselves. So when they are informed about different risks of different products, they can also choose to make the best choice for themselves, the best choice for them, the best choice for their family and their friends. I mean, nicotine pouches, they don't have secondary damage to people around you that, for example, cigarettes have. So, I mean, the benefits are huge and people want to live, people want to be healthy. That's why they keep choosing these products.
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Joanna Junak: And the last question to you, Carissa, what would be the consequences of banning nicotine pouches?
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Carissa Düring: Well, I think the most obvious consequences is for the people who had tried to stop smoking cold turkey, but failed time and time again. The standard methods that we've had, they just don't work for these people. And we have a tool that can actually help them. We've seen it being done in Sweden and banning nicotine pouches, it means failing these people, leaving them stuck with cigarettes, being unable to quit. And cigarettes cause more than eight million people's deaths each year. And the consequences for them are huge. Losing their life. There's nothing nothing larger than that you know so. Also it's very unfortunate for women because as they stated a ban would hit them extra hard because they are the one who use nicotine pouches the most and so there is a lot at stake and we shouldn't forget that.
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Joanna Junak: Thank you Carissa. That's all for today. Tune in next time here on GFN TV or on our podcast. You can also find transcriptions of each episode on the GFN.TV website. Thanks for watching or listening. See you next time.