The BC government is limiting the sale of some nicotine replacement therapy products to behind the counter at pharmacies, prompting an adverse reaction from retailers.Effective February 7, 2024, an amendment to the Drug Schedules Regulation will require buccal nicotine pouch products, such as the ones sold under the brand name Zonnic, to be kept behind the counter at pharmacies. Individuals wishing to purchase these products will need to consult a pharmacist. This will allow pharmacists to inform those purchasing the pouches about the health risks associated with nicotine dependency.NDP Premier David Eby said it was the government's job to raise the province's children.“Raising safe and healthy kids is our most important job. It is also a tough job,” said Eby. “Regulating addictive and harmful products can protect young people from peer pressure, advertising or poor decisions. By putting addictive nicotine products behind the pharmacy counter, we can ensure these products are only sold to the people they’re intended for.”Adrian Dix, BC Minister of Health, said it was good to make sure only experts could hand out the products.“BC is taking proactive steps to ensure nicotine cessation products are used for their intended purpose, aiding individuals in quitting smoking and improving their overall health,” Dix said.“By limiting access to these products and ensuring they are dispensed by trained health-care professionals, our goal is to prevent their misuse, especially among young people for recreational purposes.”According to the BC government, "Nicotine is highly addictive and children and youth are more likely to develop nicotine dependence. Nicotine affects memory and concentration, can alter brain development, reduce impulse control and cause cognitive and behavioural issues in children and youth. Nicotine dependence can result in withdrawal and cause symptoms such as headaches, shakes, dizziness and feelings of anxiety or depression."Buccal nicotine pouches are taken orally and contain up to four milligrams of nicotine, which is equivalent to the amount of nicotine absorbed from three to four cigarettes. The government said public health experts have identified a trend of youth using nicotine-cessation products recreationally.Although federal Minister of Health Mark Holland was not responsible for the change, he identified his government with it in the provincial press release.“Our top priority will always be the health and safety of Canadians,” said Holland.“British Columbia took a strong stance today to help restrict the sale of nicotine pouch products to protect children and youth from the harmful and addictive effects of nicotine. The Government of Canada and British Columbia will continue to work together to keep Canadians safe.”In a press release, the Convenience Industry Council of Canada (CICC) said it was "shocked and disappointed" by the government announcement it said "unduly punishes law abiding retailers."“Adult smokers who want to quit are far more likely to try replacement therapy if it is available where they shop, often at their local convenience store. In essence, the government is making it harder for those that want to quit to find a replacement,” said Sara MacIntyre, vice-president for Western Canada. When nicotine pouches launched last year, the CICC developed guidelines for member retailers to keep these products behind the counter, age-restrict them in the same way as tobacco and vaping products and restrict in-store advertising targeting youth. The guidelines were approved by Health Canada.“If the government was serious about limiting youth access to nicotine products they would target the many on-line retailers that sell without age-verification and deliver right to the door. The government did not consult with one store owner or industry member, not one phone call and unilaterally announced changes to one particular type of nicotine replacement product. It is nothing short of hypocrisy that nicotine gum and lozenges can be bought at the counter around the province at pharmacies but that nicotine pouches will now require pharmacists’ supervision," said McIntyre.“This is yet another BC government decision that takes no consideration of the impact on local businesses. It’s not surprising that BC has the highest rate of store closures in the country. We will make our case to the government in the coming days to remind them of the importance of the corner store and how their decisions put our retailers in peril.”In BC, the CICC represents more than 2,200 retail locations, directly employs 19,000 people, and collects over $1.6 billion in provincial taxation annually.Below, Holland told CBC in November that Ottawa was "duped" about Zonnic and he apologized for its approval.