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The Rise in Popularity of Nicotine Pouches and Legislation in Germany

Nicotine Pouches are increasingly popular in Germany, find out the implications and the future outlook for a smoke free future

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META: This useful article discusses how nicotine pouches in Germany are becoming extremely popular and what the legislation laws are that surround their use in the country.


  1. Introduction to Nicotine Pouches in Germany
  2. Factors Contributing to the Popularity Surge of Nicotine Pouches in Germany
  3. The Current Legal Framework and Regulations
  4. Public Health Perspectives and Debate
  5. Future Outlook and Potential Changes

An Introduction to Nicotine Pouches in Germany

Germany is seeing a rise in the sales and popularity of nicotine pouches which are used as a replacement for tobacco products thanks, mostly for leisure purposes but also as a means to smoking cessation.  However, these pouches are not as readily available to purchase in store as they are in the rest of Europe, only online from websites like snuzzer.de and pouchmafia.de, due to legislation that prohibits their sale offline.  There is a reason for the ban, which is that they are classified as a foodstuff, and not a smoker’s product.  The nicotine ingredient in nicotine pouches is banned in food use, hence the restriction.

Nicotine pouches are an alternative to vapes and traditional cigarettes.  They are combustion-free and used orally, which makes them a discrete choice, and they can easily be used in public spaces where traditional cigarettes and vaping products are prohibited.

Each pouch contains a blend of cellulose matrix which contains an amount of nicotine, along with flavourings.  Contrary to popular belief, nicotine pouches do not contain tobacco.  The user places the small pouch either behind their upper lip or between their gum and cheek area.  

These products have been available since 2016 so they’re still relatively new to the market.  There aren’t that many studies available on the benefits to smoking cessation or possible harmful effects to date but there are rumours of changes to German smoking laws.  This means that in the future, nicotine pouches could become readily available offline and be classified as a “tobacco” (although they don’t contain tobacco) product.  This remains under assessment by the German government and associated bodies.

Factors Contributing to the Popularity Surge of Nicotine Pouches in Germany

Doubtless, it is difficult to buy nicotine pouches offline in Germany – and perhaps that is why the online sales have grown significantly over the past several years.  There are quite a few reasons why these non-tobacco pouches are so popular, as listed below.

  • Some people believe nicotine pouches to be “healthier” than traditional cigarettes or vape products, because you do not need to use a flame to use them.
  • They also don’t contain any tobacco, which further underpins the belief that they’re “healthier”.
  • Germany has operated a smoking ban in public spaces since the Autumn of 2007 and nicotine pouches remain completely discreet – so boosting their popularity in the country.
  • Interestingly, as they are more difficult to purchase, this has pushed the purchase power underground – making them a much-coveted item which adds to their appeal.
  • People in Germany seeking out a smoking alternative are using nicotine pouches to help them quit traditional cigarettes.
  • Nicotine pouches provide longer-lasting effects than traditional cigarettes, of up to 2 hours.  This satisfies nicotine cravings for longer, without exposure to harmful tobacco chemicals (or exposing others to harmful tobacco chemicals).
  • Smokeless products such as nicotine pouches are more discreet, indoors and outdoors.
  • Nicotine pouches come in a selection of different strengths and flavours, arguably making them more appealing than cigarettes as there’s supposedly something for everyone!
  • Various online stores sell them at a competitive price, offering swift delivery – and giving the user more convenience when trying to purchase.

Additionally, in recent years there’s a significant trend towards health and wellness, which also seems to benefit nicotine pouch users.

The Current Legal Framework and Regulations

As above, almost everywhere in Germany has banned the sale of nicotine pouches due to their categorisation as a “food”.  This is because they are used as an oral product and listed as a “novel food.”  Furthermore, nicotine is banned in food use.  

Germany since 2016, is also under the jurisdiction of the Tobacco Products Directive  which is a body responsible for imposing regulations on the manufacturing, labelling and sale of tobacco products in the European Union.  However, in the EU, nicotine pouches are excluded from the TPD and most of the EU allows these products to go on sale.  As they don’t contain any tobacco – in terms of German legislation, they remain a grey area.

It's also worth mentioning that Germany’s Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL) also states that nicotine pouches should not be affected by tobacco law.  This body is responsible for labelling nicotine pouches as a food that contains nicotine as an ingredient – which is not permitted in food – therefore, banning the sale of these items in the country.

Just 18 months ago in October 2022, a report was published by the BfR (Federal Institute for Risk Assessment a branch of the government in Germany.  The report stated that nicotine pouches may reduce health risks compared to cigarette products and it also stated that nicotine pouches should be allowed to go on sale, albeit safely.

At this present moment though, nicotine pouches remain a prohibited item in Germany but there is much hope that this will be reviewed and reversed in time.

Public Health Perspectives and Debate

Nicotine pouches are still a hot topic in Germany and there is argument both for and against the sale of nicotine pouches.  Doubtless, some people still wrongly believe that these pouches contain tobacco but there is still a school of thought that understands these products are a means to smoking cessation and could help smokers finally quit the habit.  The other side of the argument states that putting nicotine pouches on sale in Germany could normalise nicotine use once again, and encourage younger generations to move onto traditional cigarettes, especially as the pouches come in so many flavours – which appeal to youth users.  Additionally, there is little known about the long-term effects of nicotine pouch use.

Future Outlook and Potential Changes

It is widely believed that there will be legislative action in future regarding the sale of nicotine pouches in Germany.  Not so long ago, the government revised the laws on heated tobacco products, underlining stricter rules for the advertising, marketing and labelling of all products – as well as ensuring they remain age-restricted.  It is likely that at some point, nicotine pouches will follow sui.

There are also plans by the European Commission to publish a revised Tobacco Product Directive later in 2024, which may well provide further guidance on nicotine pouch use in Germany.  It could be that the regulations will be in-line with vapes and e-cigs.  Of course, the government will no doubt look to raise awareness about the potential risks as well as advantages associated with these products.

To conclude, nicotine pouches are popular in Germany which could be due to the public’s preference for alternative smoking products.  It’s also fair to say that these products could be beneficial for smoking cessation but of course, more studies need to be conducted to increase understanding and put into effect appropriate legislation.  Finally, nicotine pouch manufacturers do not agree that their products are intended as foodstuffs as they should never be swallowed.  Instead, they should only be treated in the same way as other tobacco-free products that are already on sale in Germany, and indeed globally.

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