Harm Reduction
The re-opening of historic tobacco factory Strengbergs in Jakobstad, Finland marks a progressive move for safer nicotine alternatives

Nicotine Pouch Factory in Finland: Historic Revival

The Finnish town of Jakobstad is at the forefront of a historic shift in the tobacco industry with Habit Factory’s new nicotine pouch factory. This venture, blending tradition with innovation, promises economic growth and a significant step towards healthier tobacco alternatives, despite facing criticism.

Habit Factory, a Swedish company, is making a significant investment in Jakobstad, Finland, reviving the legendary Strengbergs tobacco factory. Their goal is to produce 40 to 320 million cans of nicotine pouches annually, signaling a new era in tobacco alternatives production and harm reduction.

Local experts Michael Pettersson and Sam Stenberg are leading this project. Pettersson, whose family has deep roots in Strengbergs, is excited about creating jobs and offering Finnish-made products. “My grandfather worked at Strengbergs his entire life. It’s great to bring jobs to the region and offer Finnish products,” he said to YLE.

Initially planned as a storage site, the factory shifted to manufacturing due to rising demand. This change highlights Jakobstad’s role in producing nicotine pouches and Strengbergs’ historical importance.

Strengbergs: a historic nicotine pouch factory in Jakobstad 

Strengbergs name is significant for Jakobstad. “It’s crucial to continue its legacy,” Pettersson said to YLE. Stenberg agrees, and is proud to contribute to the region’s growth.

The factory, starting production in spring, aims to hire 30 employees initially, expanding to 150 jobs and eight production lines. “We’re confident in successful recruitment and training,” said Stenberg, Finland’s CEO at Habit Factory to YLE.

The announcement has both sparked nostalgia and controversy. Critics, like Mervi Hara of ASH Finland, argue it contradicts Finland’s smoke- and nicotine-free goals. “Introducing new nicotine products is against our tobacco law objectives,” Hara stated in another article to YLE.

Economic boost and healthier choices: Jakobstad’s new era

However, this view misses several points. The factory promises economic benefits for Jakobstad, including jobs and tax revenues. The potential for 150 new jobs is significant for the local economy.

This establishment also honors Jakobstad’s tobacco history, dating back to 1762. Mika Hakosalo, city development director, sees this as a positive step, acknowledging the city’s tobacco ties.

Nicotine pouch factory – a step towards healthier alternatives

Critics often overlook the role of nicotine pouches like snus in harm reduction strategies. As a smokeless tobacco product, snus is widely recognized in harm reduction circles as a safer alternative to cigarettes. 

This aligns with global public health trends and Snusforumet’s advocacy for safer tobacco alternatives. Snus offers a way for smokers to transition away from more harmful smoking habits, potentially reducing the overall health risks associated with tobacco use.

Legal nicotine pouch production in Jakobstad offers a safer option than illegal snus imports. “It’s a healthier choice and avoids passive smoking harm,” Hakosalo added in the YLE article

Aligning with global health trends 

Despite criticism, the factory’s opening is a tribute to Jakobstad’s tobacco heritage and a significant move towards healthier tobacco alternatives. Stenberg recognizes Finland’s health goals but sees snus as a better option. “Finnish consumers should have access to locally made nicotine pouches,” said Ara Abrahamian, CEO of Habit Factory, to YLE.

The new factory in Jakobstad, while controversial, marks a progressive step in the tobacco industry. It respects the city’s tobacco history, offers a safer alternative to traditional products, and boosts the economy. This move aligns with harm reduction trends and the complex public health landscape, positioning snus as a key player in the shift towards safer tobacco use.