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Nicotine pouches – the Future of Risk-Reducing Nicotine Consumption?

Nicotine Pouches

The market for nicotine pouches is relatively new but has nevertheless grown immensely since this novel nicotine product first started appearing on the market in around 2014 and 2015.  

Moreover, in recent years, the landscape of nicotine consumption has undergone significant shifts as a whole, with new products emerging and gaining popularity. 

One of these novel nicotine products that have appeared on the market in recent years is nicotine pouches. Nicotine pouches are small, pre-packed pouches that are placed under the upper lip where they released a slow and discreet nicotine delivery which is completely free from smoke and tobacco. 

Nicotine pouches have gotten a lot of recognition in recent years from legislators, smokers and non-smokers alike for their potential as a risk-reducing alternative to traditional tobacco products.

With the growing popularity of tobacco-free nicotine pouches, it is crucial to understand what they are, how they work, and most importantly, whether they truly represent a safer option for nicotine consumption. This article aims to delve into these questions, providing a comprehensive exploration of nicotine pouches and their place in the future of nicotine use.

In this journey, we’ll uncover the potential benefits and the nature of nicotine pouches. We’ll also dive deeper and explore the potential role these products could play in harm reduction strategies for nicotine addiction. By the end, we hope to equip you with a deeper understanding of nicotine pouches and the complex issues that surround their use.

Stay with us as we navigate this intriguing facet of public health and consumer behavior, and uncover whether nicotine pouches might indeed be the future of risk-reducing nicotine consumption.

Understanding Nicotine Pouches

Nicotine pouches are small, white pouches that consist of plant fiber, flavoring, nicotine, and a few other ingredients to give them just the right properties. The pouches are placed under the upper lip against the gum where they are normally used for between 15 and 60 minutes. Their design allows them to be used completely discreetly, hands-free, and without smoke and tobacco. 

VELO Cool Storm nicotine pouches

Nicotine Pouches are, at their core, a product development of traditional Swedish snus which has a history spanning multiple centuries and is widely popular in Sweden and other Scandinavian countries.

Nicotine Pouches were developed to be used in the exact same way and offer the same satisfaction whilst offering users a completely smoke-free alternative. Manufacturers of snus began looking at ways to create similar products but without snus for several reasons. One include to avoid discoloring of the teeth, another is to offer a wider selection of flavors (which is not possible in the same way with snus since you have to take into account the flavor of tobacco). Moreover, creating a product that is free from tobacco may potentially offer health benefits over their tobacco- containing counterparts. With nicotine pouches, users get nicotine in a pure form without potential harmful substances deriving from tobacco.

One of the main features of nicotine pouches is their ability to deliver nicotine in a manner that is comparable, if not superior, to medicinal nicotine products such as gum and lozenges. This makes them a potentially effective tool for those who are seeking to quit smoking, offering a familiar nicotine experience without the need for combustion or inhalation.

Since the inception of nicotine pouches, their popularity have grown immensely across the world. Whilst tobacco snus is predominantly popular in Sweden and other Scandinavian countries, nicotine pouches have become widely popular all around the world. Nicotine pouches have become particularly popular in certain European countries like Denmark, Finland, and Baltic countries but also countries such as Canada, Australia, and in particular the US. It’s worth pointing out that snus is banned in the EU with the exception of Sweden but since nicotine pouches do not contain tobacco, they are allowed. This has opened up a completely new market for manufacturers of nicotine pouches that was previously not available for snus.

As the market for nicotine pouches has grown, so has the selection of nicotine pouch brands, flavors, and variants. The earliest brands include Lyft (Velo), ZYN, and On!, but many others have appeared and gained popularity in recent years including Loop, XQS, White Fox, just to name a few.

The selection of products has also grown immensely to offer a wider selection of flavors, strengths, and formats, giving consumers the opportunity to find the one that suits their taste and preference.

When it comes to the US, nicotine pouches have come to become very popular. Applications for initial approval of nicotine pouches have been made to the FDA, and some have received what’s known as “premarket approval”. The FDA’s stance towards nicotine pouches is based on a careful review of data, and the organization has noted that these products could potentially offer a less harmful alternative for individuals who are heavily reliant on the more harmful combusted tobacco products.

The Potential Benefits of Nicotine Pouches

Nicotine pouches are not approved as smoking cessation aid products and are not allowed to be promoted as such. But at the sam time, many former smokers have reported that nicotine pouches have been an incredibly valuable tool in helping them shift to a less harmful alternativ and quit smoking for good.

In fact, in recent years, something known as ”the Swedish experience” has become more widely discussed.This is due to the fact that Sweden is set to become the first smoke-free country in the world, which means that less of 5% of the population are regular smokers – far lower than any other country in the world. Many different components could potentially explain the low rate of smokers in Sweden but the single most important reason is believed to be snus and nicotine pouches. The use of snus – and in more recent years also nicotine pouches – is widespread in Sweden and in terms of tobacco volumes, Swedes consume about the same as other European countries. At the same time, the rate of diseases related to smoking are considerably lower than in other countries. The reason for this is of course the fact that Swedes use snus and nicotine pouches instead of smoking. 

Because of this, more and more people are studying what they call ”the Swedish experience” as a method to achieve similar results of pushing down the rate of smokers. And with this said, it’s quite clear that nicotine pouches can play a crucial role as a harm-reducing product, offering people an alternative, less harmful alternative.

Aiding in Transition from Combusted Products

Nicotine pouches could serve as a crucial tool in helping individuals addicted to more harmful combusted tobacco products transition to less harmful alternatives. Evidence indicates that these products might help smokers completely switch to a product with potentially fewer harmful chemicals. This view is echoed by the likes of Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, who attests to the potential benefits of nicotine pouches for addicted smokers.

Lower Risk Compared to Cigarettes

In 2019, the FDA cleared some U.S. versions of low-nitrosamine Swedish snus— a smokeless, moist, powdered tobacco—to be marketed with the statement that using them instead of cigarettes puts you at a lower risk of mouth cancer, heart disease, lung cancer, stroke, emphysema, and chronic bronchitis. This decision highlights the potential of non-combustible nicotine products, like nicotine pouches, as lower-risk alternatives to traditional cigarettes.

Absence of Combustible Toxins

Unlike traditional tobacco products, nicotine pouches do not contain the toxic products from tobacco leaf or its combustion. They also do not involve inhalation into the lungs, which is one of the primary causes of tobacco-related diseases. While it is critical to note that nicotine pouches are not entirely “safe”, they are considered one of the least harmful ways to ingest nicotine. If used as a complete substitute for cigarettes, nicotine pouches could significantly reduce the health risks associated with smoking.

The Risks and Limitations of Nicotine Pouches

There’s a common belief, even within the medical profession, that nicotine itself causes cancer. This misconception is not accurate; it’s the dozens of chemicals in cigarette smoke that are known to be carcinogens.

As with all addictive substances, there’s a concern about the potential impact of nicotine pouches and other nicotine products on younger users. 

Although nicotine pouches can serve as a harm-reduction strategy for current smokers, there’s obviously no single action that can fix everything. Occasional substitution of pouches for cigarettes does not confer any health advantage. For significant risk reduction to occur, a complete and permanent transition from smoking to nicotine pouches is necessary. Therefore, while nicotine pouches present a promising path for harm reduction, they should not be seen as an absolute solution to the health risks of smoking.

ZYN Nicotine Pouches

The Role of Nicotine Pouches in the Future of Nicotine Consumption

Shaping a Harm Reduction Landscape

Nicotine pouches, with their ability to offer a satisfying nicotine experience without the harmful byproducts of combustion have a significant role to play in the future of nicotine consumption. By providing a less harmful alternative to cigarettes, they could potentially shape the tobacco landscape towards a more harm-reducing direction, ultimately benefiting public health. It’s clear that banning cigarettes altogether is difficult – if not impossible. Instead, legislators and world leaders need to work to achieve a shift amongst consumers to choose less harmful alternatives instead – similar to what Sweden has succeeded with. With Sweden being a perfect example of how the rate of smokers can be reduced dramatically without banning cigarettes altogether, it should be possible for other countries to do the same.

Mitigating the Public Health Burden of Tobacco

The Surgeon General’s Report in 2014 emphasized that the rapid elimination of cigarettes and other burned tobacco products would dramatically reduce the public health burden. As nicotine pouches do not involve the combustion of tobacco, they align well with this goal. By offering a compelling alternative for smokers, they could contribute to mitigating the enormous public health burden caused by combustible tobacco products.

Addressing Misconceptions About Nicotine

Given the widespread misconception that nicotine itself causes cancer, there’s a need for clear communication about the actual risks associated with nicotine and the additional dangers posed by the chemicals in cigarette smoke. As the use of nicotine pouches grows, so too does the opportunity to educate the public and health professionals alike about the real risks of nicotine use.

Potential to Deter Progression to Cigarettes

Interestingly, some research suggests that prior use of non-combusted products like nicotine pouches might help deter progression to cigarettes. This suggests that, aside from serving as a less harmful alternative for current smokers, nicotine pouches might also have a role in preventing non-smokers, especially the youth, from taking up smoking in the first place. This potential protective effect further underscores the possible importance of nicotine pouches in the future of nicotine consumption. In Sweden, for example, smoking is quite stigmatized and people may look down on people who are smoking. At the same time, people won’t even blink an eye if they see someone using nicotine pouches or snus. It has become a part of culture and something that is widely accepted in society. With that said, it’s clear that societal norms can change over time with the introduction of alternative products.

Regulatory Considerations

As nicotine pouch use increases, it will be essential for regulatory bodies like the FDA and the European Union to continue monitoring these products and their impact on public health. This includes ensuring that these products are marketed and sold responsibly, particularly with regards to preventing access by underage individuals. Only with appropriate regulation can the potential benefits of nicotine pouches be maximized, and their risks minimized, in the future of nicotine consumption.


As we navigate the complex landscape of nicotine consumption and its impacts on public health, the rise of nicotine pouches presents a significant development worth our attention. These products have emerged as one of the fastest-growing nicotine delivery systems, offering a potentially less harmful alternative to traditional cigarettes that is free from tobacco and smoke.

While nicotine pouches are not without their risks, their absence of combustible toxins and lower risk profile compared to cigarettes underscore their potential as harm-reduction tools. They could play a crucial role in aiding addicted smokers transition from more harmful combusted products, and might even deter non-smokers from progressing to cigarettes.

The role of nicotine pouches in the future of nicotine consumption will not only be determined by the product’s potential benefits and risks but also by how effectively we can address the misconceptions about nicotine, enforce age restrictions, and monitor the long-term effects of these products.

As we move forward, nicotine pouches could shape the future of nicotine consumption, potentially driving a shift towards less harmful practices. But this potential can only be realized with a comprehensive approach that includes regulation, public education, and ongoing research. This is the challenge and opportunity that lies before us as we continue to explore new ways to reduce the harm caused by nicotine consumption.

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