Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA) says he doesn’t support Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) call for a crackdown on the nicotine product Zyn because it’s a matter of “freedom and personal choices,” drawing parallels to his reasons for supporting marijuana legalization.
Schumer said earlier this week that he’s asking the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate the health impacts and marketing of the nicotine pouches that have been popularized on social media in a way that he says appeals to youth.
“It’s a pouch packed with problems—high levels of nicotine,” the majority leader said. “I’m delivering a warning to parents, because these nicotine pouches seem to lock their sights on young kids—teenagers, and even lower—and then use the social media to hook ’em.”
Asked about Schumer’s remarks on Thursday, Fetterman said that, like alcohol and conventional tobacco products, Zyn “should be kept away from minors, of course.” But he’s not convinced that the pouches warrant special scrutiny or enforcement action.
“When I am going to have a decision, I’m going to err on the side of more freedom and personal choices and those kinds of things,” he said. “And I made that same argument when I wanted to legalize marijuana.”
He said that thousands of people die each year from the use of alcohol and cigarettes, and so he believes there are “bigger issues to address than” Zyn.
“I don’t support it—and I would never support snuff or chewing tobacco, but it’s available,” he said. “We all have these kinds of things and we should have adults having the choices to make these things available.”
After Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called for fed crackdown on Zyn nicotine pouches, Sen. John Fetterman says, “I’m going to err on the side of freedom and personal choices.” Of course keep them away from kids, he adds. pic.twitter.com/0GEtIHKpau
— Grady Trimble (@Grady_Trimble) January 25, 2024
The senator has long advocated for cannabis reform, including during his time as Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor. In November, he criticized GOP lawmakers in the state for holding up legalization as neighboring states like Ohio moved forward with the policy change.
“It just makes it more silly. It’s just so simple and so easy—just give people what they want. And again, make it safe, make it pure and make jobs,” he said. “All the benefits are going to the cartels, but now, it should be going to the state.”
Schumer, for his part, also supports cannabis legalization—though much of his focus around the issue this session has been on a bipartisan marijuana banking bill that moved through a Senate committee in September and is now pending floor action.
He said last month that lawmakers will “hit the ground running” in 2024, aiming to build on bipartisan progress on several key issues, including the marijuana banking reform—though he noted it “won’t be easy.”
Photo courtesy of Flickr/Gov. Tom Wolf.