Report: Addictive nicotine pouches are in the Kenyan market illegally
A new study has revealed that the Kenyan market has been littered with nicotine pouches under the brand name Velo, which is against the Ministry of Health’s public health directive and in violation of the Tobacco Control Act.
The product contains nicotine and is addictive.
In a statement, the Consumer Information Network, International Institute for Legislative Affairs, and Kenya Tobacco Control Alliance said that their study has uncovered serious violations of the Kenya Tobacco Control Act in the introduction, promotion and continued sale of the highly-addictive nicotine pouches in Kenya.
The study said that the pouches were introduced in Kenya in July 2019 under the brand name Lyft, which was stopped by the Cabinet Secretary for Health in October 2020.
According to the ministry, pouches were stopped because they had been illegally registered by the Pharmacy and Poisons Board as a pharmaceutical products.
As per the Ministry of Health’s directive, nicotine pouches remain illegal in Kenya unless they fully comply with the Tobacco Control Act just like other tobacco products on the market.
The report revealed that users of Velo have confirmed various documented health effects such as headaches, nausea, sore mouth, gum irritation and disease, dizziness, increased risk of relapse to tobacco products and nicotine addiction.
“Nicotine as the primary constituent in nicotine pouches has been proven to have various adverse effects on human health.
These include increased risk of fatality when suffering from cardiovascular disease, effects on reproduction, increased cancer risks, impairment of adolescent brains, reduced cognitive ability and increased risk of heart attack among others,” Mr Samuel Ochieng, who is the Executive Director of Consumer Information Network said.
British American Tobacco (BAT) has been accused of attempting to undermine tobacco regulation, by persistently pushing the unproven, and likely false narrative of these products as less harmful relative to others.
The study has recommended enhanced laws and regulations (tobacco control laws) to curb loopholes exploited by the industry to the detriment of the regulators, stakeholders and the public.
“We also advocate for stringent application or amendment of election/political financing laws to curb the influence of the tobacco industry in affecting policy and legislation,” Celine Awuor, the Chief Executive Officer of the International Institute for Legislative Affairs.