Call for Kenyan Government to Ban Sale of Nicotine Pouches by BAT

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Call for Kenyan Government to Ban Sale of Nicotine Pouches by BAT
Kenyan legislators are urging the government to ban British American Tobacco (BAT) from selling nicotine pouches.

According to a report by Kenyan media outlet Mwakilishi on October 7th, legislators in Kenya are urging the government to ban the sale of nicotine pouches by British American Tobacco (BAT).


During a parliamentary address in Kenya, Health Minister Susan Nakhumicha was questioned about the issue of addictive products, specifically the sales of nicotine pouch brands Lyft and Velo, under the British American Tobacco company, within the country.


Despite the recent popularity among college students, there has been a lack of clear disclosure regarding the potential health risks associated with using the product. According to the Kenyan Tobacco Control Act (KTCA), all packaging of nicotine pouches and tobacco products must include warnings in English and Kiswahili. Member of Parliament Sabina Chege displayed two boxes of Velo brand nicotine pouches in the parliamentary hall to reveal the distribution of this addictive substance in local stores.


The only warning on cigarette packaging is a reminder to consumers that Velo contains nicotine, which can be addictive. Experts emphasize that nicotine, whether natural or synthetic, not only leads to addiction but also poses serious health risks.


Chige argues and contends that allowing the import of this addictive substance could jeopardize the well-being of Kenyan youth. The Minister of Health suggested the formation of a technical team to investigate the 2007 tobacco bill and make recommendations.


British American Tobacco has made significant efforts to diversify its product line beyond traditional cigarettes, successfully launching smokeless products, traditional oral tobacco, e-cigarettes, and modern oral tobacco products such as Velo.


In 2019, the Kenyan Ministry of Health expressed concerns over the transfer of regulatory authority for nicotine pouches from the Pharmacy and Poisons Board to the Tobacco Control Board, leading to a suspension of nicotine pouch sales in Kenya. However, in 2022, an agreement was reached between the two parties, allowing for the sale of nicotine pouches and reclassifying them as tobacco products.


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