A directive to the Pharmacy and Poisons Board CEO Fred Siyoi from the Ministry of Health, has declared the registration of nicotine pouches irregular in the country creating a blow to British American Tobacco Kenya Company (BAT) who manufactures the popular product LYFT.
LYFT is a nicotine pouche marketed by BAT Kenya as an alternative to cigarettes for addicted smokers.
Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe wants the products deregistered citing that the licensing of the nicotine pouches was done contrary to the law.
“The nicotine pouches neither meet the descriptions of ‘Part I Poison’ nor “Part II poison’ as prescribed in the Act,” reads the letter.
“Further, the manner in which the product is sold to the public does not meet the provisions of Section 23 of CAP 244 as required.”
According to the CS, market surveillance has shown that the product is dispensed in automatic vending machines which contravenes the law.
“In view of the above, therefore, you are required to furnish the ministry with a comprehensive report on the criteria used and circumstances leading to the registration and licensing of the product under the Pharmacy and Poisons Act.”
The Kenya Tobacco Control Alliance (Ketca) had raised concerns over the availability of Lyft and misuse by minors.
"A product that is highly addictive, which poses health risks, should not be sold freely. We want the nicotine product heavily taxed and regulated, just as we handle other tobacco products," said Ketca chairman Joel Gitali.
The product is sold in supermarkets and over the counter at Sh 20. Since its introduction into the country last year July, the product has been marketed as a safe alternative to smokers who want to quit the habit.
Just like other nicotine products, Lyft which is imported into the country from Sweden gives one a feeling of being high in a short span. The pouch is placed inside the mouth between the lip and gums for extended periods.
Parents and anti-tobacco groups have been lobbying to have the Ministry of health ban the product.
Early this year, BAT announced that it would build a Sh 2.5 billion factory in Nairobi for production of African market oral pouches which act as an alternative to cigarettes.