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Why doctors are against ban of nicotine pouches


Doctors and experts have advised that the government should focus on regulating nicotine rather than completely banning it.

Speaking on Spice FM on Tuesday, March 19, Michael Kariuki and Nick Mutisya, both doctors and harm strategy experts, averred that a complete ban of nicotine pouches is not the solution to dealing with cigarette and tobacco addiction in the country.

According to them, the method was previously adopted but failed, but, regulating or controlling has proven to work one too many times.

“Banning of products does not work. The best way to go about it is to regulate; as the whole idea is to reduce the harm caused by these products,” said Kariuki.

According to the expert, vapes and nicotine pouches are part of harm-reduction strategies for tobacco because they are safer alternatives if used properly.

He added: “When you put smokers on regulated electronic cigarettes and combined with psychotherapy, there is a very high chance that this person will quit smoking.”

Reiterating Dr Kariuki’s sentiments, Dr Mutisya said that electronic cigarettes have therapeutic nicotine, which is medicinal and has been proven to help a smoker hook off from their addiction.

However, it has to be prescribed and guided by a physician.

If the government can introduce therapeutic vapes and pouches and tame those that are currently in the market, then it will be easier to deal with tobacco addiction in the country, the doctors said.

Their sentiments come amidst concerns over the increase in consumption of nicotine through vapes and pouches in the country.

According to Dr Mutisya, those that are currently in the market are lethal and cannot be used to deal with addiction. Rather, they pose more harm to the consumers.

“We have electronic cigarettes (vapes) in our settings that are not regulated and contain nicotine levels that are lethal and can cause a cardiac arrest,” he said, urging the government to regulate them and focus on the inclusion of therapeutic nicotine as a form of tobacco harm strategy.

Since their introduction into the country in 2021, the pouches have been marketed as a safe alternative for smokers who want to quit the habit.

The pouch is placed inside the mouth between the lip and gums for extended periods. Parents and anti-tobacco groups had been lobbying to have the Ministry of Health ban the product.

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