The legal situation around snus in Germany, as well as around the tobacco-free nicotine pouches is confusing and has been occupying the courts for several years. An overview of what is allowed in this country and what is not.
Swedish snus (also spelled snooze or snous) has always been banned in Germany. The background is that snus is not classified as chewing tobacco in Germany, but as a tobacco product for oral use. Chewing tobacco is allowed, but all other tobacco products that are consumed orally are not. However, since snus is not chewed but sucked, it falls into the second category – so it is not allowed.
In 2019, the Bavarian Court of Justice banned a product sold under the category of "chewing bag," even though it contained cut tobacco, not ground as is the case with real snus. The court's reasoning was that the product was snus. Since then, confusion has reigned on both the retailer and consumer sides. This is because the sale of Chewing Bags is still not prohibited in other German states.
But it gets even more complicated: Besides the real Swedish snus, which contains tobacco, there have been nicotine pouches or nicotine pouches for some time, which do not contain tobacco, but plant fibers mixed with nicotine. The question now is how to classify these pouches because they do not contain tobacco.
Thus, these nicotine pouches do not fall under the Tobacco Products Act, resulting in a legal gray area. The Hamburg Regional Court has put a stop to the sale of nicotine pouches until it is clarified how the Pouches are to be legally classified.
The sale of snus in Germany is not permitted; the sale of nicotine pouches is still allowed at least in some federal states until there is a uniform regulation. The consumption of snus and nicotine pouches, on the other hand, is allowed. So you can buy the products abroad and then consume them at home.
There is no legally clear answer to this question yet either. While the sale of snus is generally prohibited, nicotine pouches can still be sold quite legally in some German states. However, many retailers are now reluctant to sell them for fear that the products may soon be banned or because they are not sure whether they are breaking the law.
Some manufacturers of nicotine pouches have already tried to classify them as food - just like in Sweden, where real snus also falls under food. However, the manufacturers have failed with this, as courts have prohibited the classification as food. According to the German Food Act, no toxic substances may be contained in food - and nicotine is such a substance. So the only option would be to create special treatment for nicotine pouches under the Tobacco Products Act.
When genuine Swedish snus is purchased in Germany, it is both a violation of the law by the retailer, as the sale of snus is prohibited in Germany. The situation is different for nicotine pouches and chewing tobacco: In federal states where the sale of nicotine pouches and chewing tobacco is allowed, consumers can purchase them quite legally, online and offline.