Embracing Alternatives: Nicotine pouches play a key role in enabling Harm Reduction

Nicotine pouches have emerged as an effective alternative for consumers seeking to quit smoking. To achieve EU targets on smoking prevalence going from over 20% to below 5% in a situation with over 80 million smokers in the EU, it is essential for policymakers to acknowledge that many smokers are willing to transition away from cigarettes but not necessarily to quit nicotine. Traditional approaches to tobacco control that demand complete nicotine abstinence have proven ineffective for a significant part of the smoking population. Therefore, policymakers should embrace reduced-risk alternatives to reach all smokers, taking into account factors such as taste preferences, ease of use, and nicotine delivery methods.

Nicotine-containing pouches for oral use offer a promising alternative to smoking cigarettes. The example from countries like Norway and Sweden, with a smoking prevalence close to 1/5 of the average smoking prevalence in the EU has demonstrated the effectiveness of oral nicotine products in reducing smoking rates. Sweden’s incidence of cancer is 41% lower than the rest of its European counterparts, corresponding to a 38% lower level of total cancer deaths. 24 of the other 27 EU Member States have a tobacco-related mortality rate twice as high as Sweden, relative to population size. Sweden has a 39.6% lower rate of death of all tobacco-related diseases compared to the EU average and has the lowest number of deaths attributed to lung cancer. While acknowledging that no nicotine product is entirely riskfree, it is widely accepted that nicotine pouches pose substantially lower health risks than smoking cigarettes.