The government has declared popular nicotine pouches LYFT illegal.

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe has declared that the pouches were registered illegally, and wants them deregistered.

In a letter to the Pharmacy and Poisons Board CEO Fred Siyoi, the CS writes that registration was done contrary to the provisions of Section 25 of the Pharmacy and Poisons Act CAP 224.

“The nicotine pouches neither meet the descriptions of ‘Part I Poison’ nor “Part II poison’ as prescribed in the Act,” the letter reads in part.

“Further, the manner in which the product is sold to the public does not meet the provisions of Section 23 of CAP 244 as required.

“In view of the above, therefore, you are required to furnish the ministry with a comprehensive report on the criteria used and circumstances leading to the registration and licensing of the product under the Pharmacy and Poisons Act.”

LYFT was introduced into the market late last year, and has seen a rapid growth in popularity particularly during the Covid pandemic period when night clubs were shut down.

The product is marketed by British American Tobacco (BAT), and there were reports that the company had been granted permission to construct a manufacturing facility for the product in the country.

Currently, LYFT is imported from Sweden.

Following the rise in its usage, different groups have been calling on the government to ban its use. These include: Kenya Tobacco Control Alliance, National Taxpayers Association, the Non-Communicable Diseases Alliance of Kenya, the International Institute for Legislative Affairs and the Kenya Network of Cancer Organisations.

It remains unclear whether this latest move means that the product will be pulled from shelves, and how soon that will happen.