More than one million nicotine pouches seized in Australia this year

The latest nicotine product flooding into the country are pouches, as authorities strip hundreds of thousands of disposable vapes from the wider market.

The pouches are marketed on American social media and podcast channels, exploding in popularity about a year ago. British American Tobacco’s brand of nicotine pouches, Velo, sponsors the McLaren Formula 1 team.

As the Federal Police and Border Force make a serious crackdown on the importation of single use vapes, many of which contain nicotine, the pouches have slid in underneath as the latest source of illegal nicotine for the general population.

Authorities have seized more than 1.3m pouches so far this year, ten times more than in the past two years.

Perth-based Border Force superintendent, James Payne, told the ABC a lot of the imports came from China and Europe.

University of Sydney tobacco control expert Becky Freeman says pouches contain either organic or synthetic nicotine, with a vast array of flavours and strengths.

“The range of appealing flavours, as well as the fact they can be used discreetly, may make nicotine pouches particularly attractive to young people,” the associate professor wrote earlier this year.

“The nicotine contents of some of the nicotine pouches on the market is alarmingly high.”

The Therapeutic Goods Administration has not approved any pouches as a therapeutic aid to quit smoking, so they’re not legal to sell in Australia.

They can be imported for individual use with a prescription.

The federal government banned the importation of vapes in January and increased enforcement activity.

The next stage of the government’s response is to outlaw domestic manufacture, advertisement, supply and commercial possession of non-therapeutic vapes.

Since the crackdown, the Australia Border Force have made huge seizures of vapes, including 400,000 devices in one hit at Sydney, seized another 200,000 vapes in the harbour city, and an 80,000 vape haul at Brisbane so far this year.

This month the government announced a $63.4m ‘Give Up For Good’ campaign, to get people off the smokes and vapes.

The scheme pulls in social media influencers.

“Nicotine is highly addictive and before you know it, what starts as an occasional thing becomes something much more serious. But it’s never too late to quit,” Health Minister Mark Butler said.

“If you are worried about the hold that nicotine has over you, remember that help is there.

“You can call Quitline on 13 7848, visit, talk to a health professional, or download the My QuitBuddy app.”

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