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The Government appears poised to allow the sale of oral tobacco and nicotine products in Aotearoa NZ. However public health researchers warn that the tobacco industry is promoting these addictive products to young people who are vulnerable to nicotine addiction.

University of Otago researchers from ASPIRE Aotearoa investigate the products, their marketing and their risks to health in the latest Briefing from the Public Health Communication Centre.

Dr Jude Ball says companies selling oral nicotine products are already directly targeting NZ youth which may be in breach of NZ law. “Since January this year, ZYN promotions have directly advertised sales to NZ youth on platforms such as TikTok, announcing ‘now available in NZ’ with links to a ZYN NZ online store.”

Under the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Act 1990 it is illegal to sell oral tobacco and nicotine products with the exception of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) such as nicotine gum and lozenges which are classed as a medicine. Dr Ball says manufacturers of NRT products must demonstrate the products meet strict safety and efficacy requirements. “There’s limited evidence that nicotine pouches can help people quit smoking and lack of evidence about the long-term safety and efficacy of oral nicotine products. So why allow their sale in NZ?”

Oral tobacco products such as chewing tobacco and ‘snus’ are thought to be less dangerous than smoked tobacco but are addictive and are associated with oral health problems and several cancers including oral, oesophageal, stomach, and pancreatic cancers. 

“Over the last few years, tobacco companies have diversified producing tobacco-free nicotine pouches and dissolvable ‘pearls’, available in many different flavours and nicotine strengths. These products contain nicotine – either synthetic or extracted from tobacco – and are often marketed to appeal to young people.”

“This country has the highest youth vaping rates in the world. There is a high risk that flavoured oral tobacco and nicotine products will add to the problem of youth nicotine addiction.”


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