The British Columbia government’s decision to limit the sale of nicotine pouches to pharmacies only has sparked outrage from the Consumers’ Association of Canada. 

The consumer group says the move, which was announced yesterday without any prior consultation with consumers, contradicts the province’s harm reduction approach and denies smokers access to a safer alternative to cigarettes.

Nicotine pouches are a type of nicotine replacement therapy that has been approved by Health Canada as a way to help smokers quit or reduce their tobacco consumption. 

They are small pouches that contain nicotine and other ingredients that are placed under the lip and release nicotine into the bloodstream.

The Consumers’ Association of Canada president Bruce Cran called the restriction “one of the most ridiculous and counterproductive measures” he has seen in his 50 years as a consumer advocate. 

He questioned the rationale behind the decision, which was based on the premise of preventing youth use of nicotine pouches.

“Under what possible pretense could a province that has championed safe supply and harm reduction make it more difficult to access a nicotine replacement therapy that is in high demand from adult smokers,” said Cran. 

“It is beyond my comprehension that a harm reduction champion like BC would restrict access to a Health Canada-approved nicotine replacement therapy.  Governments should be encouraging smokers to switch to these products, not making them more difficult to access.”

The consumer rights group says it will fight against the sales restriction and urges consumers who use nicotine pouches to voice its opposition to Health Minister Adrian Dix.

“The minister made this order without consulting consumers. That is unacceptable. He will hear from them now,” Cran said.

At the same time, the British Columbia government is looking to expand its so-called “safe supply” program to provide even more addicts with government narcotics.