Austria Styria State Banning Nicotine Pouches for Minors

Styria bans nicotine pouches minors

Styria has become the latest Austrian state to ban the sale of nicotine pouches to individuals under the age of 18. The state parliament passed an amendment to the Youth Act on Tuesday, which will come into force on October 1, 2024. This move follows similar bans implemented by Upper Austria, Salzburg, and Tyrol, as more states take action to address the growing popularity of these addictive nicotine products among teenagers and young adults.

Nicotine Pouches: A Discreet and Dangerous Trend

Nicotine pouches have gained significant traction among young people since their introduction to the Austrian market in 2019. These small, white pouches are placed under the upper lip, allowing nicotine to be absorbed through the mucous membrane. The discreet nature of these products enables users to consume nicotine inconspicuously, even in classroom settings.

Unlike traditional snus, nicotine pouches do not contain tobacco, which means they are not subject to the German Tobacco and Non-Smoker Protection Act. Consequently, there have been no age restrictions on the purchase of these products, allowing minors to legally access highly addictive nicotine.

States Take Action to Protect Youth

Recognizing the potential harm posed by nicotine pouches, an increasing number of Austrian states have taken matters into their own hands by banning the sale of these products to minors through their respective youth protection laws.

ÖVP state councillor Simone Schmiedtbauer, who is responsible for the amendment in Styria, emphasizes the importance of this change, stating, “Nicotine pouches are extremely harmful and quickly addictive. And they are unfortunately becoming more and more popular. As early as 2022, 13% of young people stated that they had used nicotine pouches or similar products in the last month.”

Addiction Experts Call for Comprehensive Regulation

While the ban on nicotine pouches for minors is a welcome step, addiction experts stress that youth protection alone is not sufficient to address the issue comprehensively. Waltraud Posch from the Styrian addiction prevention center Vivid explains, “We very much welcome it, because nicotine pouches are particularly addictive, but unlike all other nicotine products, they are not regulated.”

Posch emphasizes the need for product regulation at the national level, including a ban on advertising and sponsorship, as well as higher taxation, to effectively combat the growing popularity of nicotine pouches among young people.

As more states take action to protect minors from the dangers of nicotine addiction, pressure mounts on the national government to implement comprehensive regulations for nicotine pouches and similar products. Until then, the bans enacted by individual states serve as a crucial first step in safeguarding the health and well-being of Austria’s youth.

Source: Steiermark verbietet Nikotinbeutel unter 18 Jahre

Matthew Ma