The curious case of Smokie’s Redmuule nicotine pouches and an Italian law

The strange Redmuule saga goes on. The decision to first specifically ban and then permit the nicotine pouch brand to be sold on the Italian market, but with important requirements that did not apply to any other brand, is the sort of action that makes one wonder how rulemaking can be done in such an ad hoc fashion.

Clearly the measure will be (and is being) challenged. It seems very unlikely that any court will permit one product on the market to be treated differently to competitors, even if the requirements requested of the Redmuule brand – such as ensuring products are sold in child-resistant packaging and include ingredient information, nicotine concentration per pouch, instructions for use and health warnings – really should be applied universally across the market.

But as the brand’s Italian distributor – Smokie’s – pointed out, that is something that needs to be done through the correct procedure and not in an arbitrary and makeshift way. The Italian Customs and Monopolies Agency (ADM) should have issued a directive introducing new provisions on packaging at the time that would have also determined the deadline by which manufacturers, importers and distributors must comply. Not doing so is against procedure, the company alleges.

Presumably a directive is now underway in the halls of power. Certainly Smokie’s believes so. It has already embarked on changing its packaging in anticipation of such a directive, despite its having lodged a challenge against the current decision specifically forcing it to adhere to such measures.


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    Smokie’s has also complained about having to destroy products for which it contends it technically always had regulatory authorisation. The company believed it should have been allowed to sell off its old stock as it transitions to the new packaging.

    Smokie’s did bring up the question of why it could not simply move the pouches over to new packaging rather than lose the entirety of the product. But presumably as a distributor, it does not have the facilities to do so itself, and shipping it back to the manufacturer to change over and ship back again would be too great a cost.

    As to why Italian authorities seemingly had it out for the one brand, it appears Redmuule suffered from “head above the parapet” syndrome. It was the first nicotine pouch brand to make a major impact in the Italian market, TobaccoIntelligence believes. As a result, it was the brand specifically named initially in orders to halt the sale of these new nicotine products flooding the market, and then again in the rescission order, with its extra caveats that authorities belatedly thought should apply to these sorts of products.

    So going forward, it is extremely likely Smokie’s will win its challenge. In that case, the order will be rescinded, and a new one will be put in place that allows the products to continue to be sold on the market without specific restrictions. And over the same time, authorities will continue to work on a directive to be issued to instil minimum packaging restrictions along the lines of what it required Redmuule to do.

    – Freddie Dawson TobaccoIntelligence staff

    Photo: Luca Micheli

    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.