Survey results on nicotine usage rates among young Finns beg further digging

Use of alternative nicotine products among younger consumers in Finland is on the rise, but their tobacco use has stayed the same, a substance abuse organisation recently found.

The implication is that the use of nicotine pouches in particular is doing nothing to cut smoking rates further, but it is increasing overall nicotine consumption.

A study conducted by the Finnish Association for Substance Abuse Prevention (EHYT) found that daily use of nicotine pouches by 15- to 29-year-olds in the country increased from 3% to 10% between 2022 and 2024, while occasional use also saw a slight increase (from 9% to 13%) over the same period.

Overall perception of nicotine pouches during that time grew more positive, rising from 21% of respondents considering pouches trendy to 36%.


Questions left unanswered


Across the surveyed period of time – which covered a change in the interpretation of the law that made pouches more widely available – the use of snus and tobacco products remained relatively stable, according to the online study of just over 1,000 people conducted on behalf of the EHYT in January.

However, the EHYT did not present the full dataset and study, meaning some questions were left unanswered by the organisation’s bulletin. For example, if 36% consider pouches trendy, what do the rest think of them? Presumably – as tends to happen with these sorts of surveys – it was some sort of gradient of possible answers ranging from fully in favour to fully against. Does the 36% include all categories showing any bit of support for pouches? Or only the most fervently positive?

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    Then of course there is the question of whether an increase in nicotine use is such a terrible thing, regardless of its impact on tobacco use. This has been discussed before across TamarindIntelligence sites. Suffice to say that nicotine use in itself and on its own is not that hazardous to health, at least no more so than any other variety of addictive substances freely available on the market.


    A source with an abstemious background


    Further muddying things is the survey’s classifying of snus together with other tobacco products. That resulted in a reported rate of 40% daily or occasional usage overall – much higher than the 23% for pouches. Presumably the majority of that 40% is due to snus, which is a much more similar product to pouches in terms of relative harm and one that has a long history in Scandinavia.

    The idea that no young people would ever take up a vice product again is also nonsensical. So is it the worst if younger users go straight to pouches rather than moving there from smoking?

    The EHYT suggests the attractiveness is down to the range of flavours available and because pouches are marketed as a “harmless product”. But this should already be against Finnish law. According to TobaccoIntelligence’s report: “Any advertising, including indirect advertising, sales promotion activities and sponsorship, is prohibited for tobacco substitutes. It also includes price rebates and display in retail outlets.” So it should not be possible to market pouches at all – harmless or otherwise.

    It should be noted that the EHYT has its root in abstinence, and while abstinence may be a noble goal, countless times it has been shown to be an overly idealistic one in terms of real-world attainability. This is a point that should be kept in mind when considering abstinence-influenced policy suggestions.

    – Freddie Dawson TobaccoIntelligence staff

    Photo: Hendrik Morkel

    Freddie Dawson

    Senior news editor
    Freddie studied at King’s College, London and City University and worked for publications including The Times, The Malay Mail, PathfinderBuzz and Solar Summary before joining the ECigIntelligence team. He has extensive experience in covering fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), manufacturing and technological innovation.