Finnish Customs would like to remind customers of the import restrictions on nicotine pouches (updated 24 November 2020)
Finnish Customs has noticed a significant increase in the ordering and traveller imports of pouches containing nicotine during the beginning of the year. Nicotine pouches are subject to the Finnish Medicines Act, and they are subject to different import restrictions than snus.
Pouches containing nicotine are pouches that are placed in the oral cavity and that contain nicotine but no tobacco. The import and sale of nicotine preparations is regulated by the Medicines Act. The Finnish Medicines Agency Fimea is responsible for the supervision and classification of medicines. Finnish Customs is responsible for the supervision of imports.
The amount of nicotine in a pouch affects the import
Nicotine products are classified either as over-the-counter medicines (nicotine up to 4 mg of nicotine) or as prescription medicines (more than 4 mg of nicotine). Products containing more than 4 mg of nicotine per dose cannot be brought in as traveller imports or ordered, unless a valid import licence, e.g. a prescription, can be presented.
Private persons can bring in, as traveller imports for their personal use, nicotine pouches from the EEA in a quantity corresponding to one year’s use and from outside the EEA in a quantity corresponding to three months’ use. Correspondingly, private persons can order nicotine pouches for their personal use from the EEA in a quantity corresponding to three months’ use. Nicotine pouches cannot be ordered from outside the EEA.
In an inspection, Customs determines what the products are, based on the labelling. If necessary, the determination will be carried out by the Customs Laboratory, and a statement will be requested from Fimea.
If a private person brings in nicotine pouches with more than 4 mg of nicotine, but cannot present a prescription, the matter will lead, depending on the case, either to detention of the products or possibly even to preliminary investigation.
Medicinal products can only be obtained from sellers that, according to the legislation of their country, have the right to sell these products.
Strong increase in the number of detentions of nicotine pouches
By the end of July, Finnish Customs has made 665 detentions related to nicotine pouches. During the same period last year, there were only a couple of detentions. The increased number of detentions indicates a rise in the quantities brought in.
Nicotine pouches are not snus as referred to in the Tobacco Act
Snus is a smokeless tobacco product made of tobacco and containing nicotine, which is addictive. Pouches containing nicotine differ from snus in that they do not contain any tobacco plants. The import prohibitions and restrictions on snus are laid down in the Finnish Tobacco Act. A private person is allowed to bring in a total of no more than 1 000 grams of snus in one calendar day for his or her personal use. Ordering snus is prohibited.