Nicotine Pouches have increase dramatically in popularity in recent years as a less harmful nicotine alternative to tobacco products. As people are becoming more health-conscious and understanding the harmful effects of smoking, more and more people are looking for alternative products with a lower risk. One such product that has emerged on the market in recent years is nicotine pouches.
Nicotine pouches are small, pre-packaged pouches containing nicotine plant, fiber, flavoring, and other food-grade ingredients.
They are used by placing the pouch between the upper lip and gum, where the nicotine is absorbed through the mucous membranes in the mouth. Despite their novelty, nicotine pouches are not a sudden invention that sprung out of nowhere. Instead, they are the result of a long evolution, tracing their roots back to a traditional product that has been a staple in Swedish culture for centuries: snus.
Snus is a moist powder tobacco product, used in the same way as nicotine pouches by placing them under the upper lip. The history of snus dates back to the early 18th century and over the years, their popularity has increased as well. However, the fact that they contain tobacco presents some challenges. First and foremost, tobacco snus is banned in the EU with the exception of Sweden. Moreover, more and more people are looking for tobacco-free alternatives as less harmful alternatives. In addition, the flavor of tobacco is something that does not appeal to everyone.
This has led to the development of flavored and “all white” snus, and ultimately, to the creation of tobacco-free nicotine pouches.
In this article, we will delve into the fascinating journey from traditional snus to modern nicotine pouches. We’ll explore the factors that spurred this evolution, the key milestones along the way, and what the future holds for this innovative product category.
Join us as we unpack the story of nicotine pouches: a tale of tradition, innovation, and the quest for a cleaner nicotine experience.
The Predecessor: Traditional Snus
Before we can fully appreciate the advent of nicotine pouches, we must first understand their predecessor: traditional snus. This moist powder tobacco product has been a part of Swedish culture since the early 18th century. Snus is a variant of dry snuff and provides a convenient, smokeless way to consume nicotine. Snus is discreet and completely smokeless, making it easy to use anytime and anywhere.
The usage of snus is straightforward and has remained largely unchanged over centuries. Snus exists both in pre-packed pouches and loose format but due to the convenience of the pouches, this is the most popular type of snus. Loose snus comes in the form of loose ground tobacco leaves which are baked and place under the lip. The loose format can cause a bit of a mess and is less convenient to use, which is why snus pouches is the most popular format.
When the snus is placed under the upper lip, the nicotine is absorbed through the mucous membranes of the mouth, providing a steady release of nicotine for generally up to an hour. This is the same method of use that nicotine pouches would later adopt, offering a familiar experience to snus users.
Over the years, snus manufacturers have fine-tuned the product in response to consumer feedback and changing tastes. The traditional, unflavored snus gradually expanded to include a variety of flavors, formats, and recipes. This was a significant shift, making snus more appealing to a wider range of consumers, and setting the stage for the diverse flavor profiles we see in nicotine pouches today. Originally, snus only existed in loose format but in the 1970s, the pouch came about, making snus use much more convenient.
The Advent of “All White” Snus
As consumer demands continued to evolve, manufacturers looked for ways to further improve the snus experience. A common complaint among snus users was the staining of teeth caused by the tobacco. To address this, manufacturers developed “all white” snus. These products underwent a special manufacturing process to reduce the amount of tobacco-derived discoloration on users’ teeth. Brands like Omni from Swedish Match and Epok from Winnington led the way in this innovation.
While these “all white” products still contained tobacco, they marked a significant step towards the creation of tobacco-free nicotine pouches. They demonstrated that manufacturers were willing and able to innovate, not only to meet consumer demands, but also to potentially reduce the health risks associated with their products.
The Transition to Nicotine Pouches
Building on the foundation laid by traditional and “all white” snus as well as traditional tobacco snus, a new frontier was on the horizon. The next step in this evolution involved a significant change – the removal of tobacco from the equation altogether. While this marked a clear departure from traditional snus, the method of usage remained the same, thus presenting a familiar product but with different and improved characteristics.
Early Innovators: Omni and Epok
Two of the early innovators in this transition were the brands Omni by Swedish Match and Epok by Winnington. While these products still contained tobacco, they were a clear step towards the development of tobacco-free nicotine pouches. Their “all white” appearance was not just a cosmetic improvement; it also represented a desire to provide a “cleaner” nicotine experience, reducing the staining of teeth associated with traditional snus.
Throughout this transition, consumer demands played a crucial role. As society became more health-conscious, many consumers were looking for alternatives to traditional tobacco products. They wanted the familiar nicotine experience, but without the tobacco. This demand provided the impetus for manufacturers to innovate and explore tobacco-free options.
The Invention and Launch of Modern Nicotine Pouches
The evolution of snus had reached a pivotal moment. With the groundwork laid by “all white” snus, the stage was set for a radical innovation: a completely tobacco-free nicotine snus. This marked a major turning point in the industry, offering a cleaner, potentially less harmful way for consumers to enjoy nicotine.
Since manufacturers had already found a way to create an all-white snus and reducing the amount of tobacco used, they asked themselves if it was necessary to use tobacco at all- whilst stil providing the same user experience. The answer to this of course turned out to be true and the result – after much innovation and research – became the nicotine pouches we know today.
ZYN: Pioneering the Way
Leading the way in this new era was Swedish Match with the launch of ZYN in the US market in 2014. ZYN was a revolutionary product – a tobacco-free pouch that offers a nicotine experience similar to traditional snus. With the launch of ZYN, consumers could now enjoy the familiar act of placing the pouch under the upper lip and experiencing a steady release of nicotine, but without any tobacco.
The launch of ZYN represented a significant milestone in the journey from snus to nicotine pouches. It demonstrated that a nicotine product could provide a satisfying experience without the inclusion of tobacco, opening up a whole new category within the industry.
In 2016 after the success of the US-launched, Swedish Match launched ZYN in Sweden which instantly became a huge success.
LYFT: A New Player Enters the Scene
Not long after, in the autumn of 2018, another major player entered the scene. British American Tobacco (BAT) acquired Winnington’s Epok brand in 2017. After BAT acquired EPOK, it’s evident that they immediately started looking at ways to innovate the product. They used EPOK as a springboard to launch their own tobacco-free nicotine pouch: Lyft. Like ZYN, Lyft offered a tobacco-free nicotine experience, but with a diverse array of flavors, bringing a new dimension to the market.
The launch of Lyft added momentum to the shift towards tobacco-free nicotine pouches. It signaled to the industry and consumers alike that tobacco-free was not just a passing trend, but a significant, lasting shift in the market.
In some markets, BAT used the name Velo and in 2022, the company decided to use the name Velo across all markets to create a more consistent and recognizable brand, no matter where in the world the customer is.
The answer to the question is therefore that nicotine pouches were invented in around the year of 2014. In the following years, a growing number of companies decided to enter this market and the available brands have grown exponentially ever since. The first two nicotine pouch brands were ZYN and Lyft, now known as Velo.
The Use and Appeal of Nicotine Pouches
Convenience in a Pouch
Nicotine pouches are used in the exact same way as traditional snus. Users simply place a pouch between the upper lip and gum and the nicotine is absorbed through the mucous membranes of the mouth. This method is discreet and does not require spitting or any form of combustion. This makes nicotine pouches a clean and convenient way to consume nicotine. Whether you’re at home, at work, or on the go, nicotine pouches can be used in all the places where you wouldn’t be able to use traditional nicotine products.
A wide selection of Flavors
One of the appealing aspects of nicotine pouches is the variety of flavors available. From the cool freshness of mint to the fruity notes of berry or citrus, there is a flavor to suit every palate. Moreover, new and exciting flavors are constantly popping up on the market, ranging from candy to soda flavors and everything in between. This diversity makes it possible for everyone to find the flavor of their preference. Moreover, it means that you’re not limited to the traditional tobacco flavor which has been the case for so long for other nicotine products.
The large availability of these flavors is a testament to how far the product has come from the traditional, unflavored snus.
One of the major driving forces behind the appeal of nicotine pouches is that it is sen as a less harmful product. And indeed, that has certainly proven to be the case when compared to most other nicotine products on the market – in particular traditional smoking products like cigarettes.
Studies are clear on the fact that nicotine pouches are less harmful than smoking. More studies need to be conducted when it comes to comparing them to other smoke-free alternatives but thus far, the results have been positive.
Since nicotine pouches are tobacco-free, they eliminate the risks associated with tobacco-specific carcinogens and the dangers of inhaling smoke which is a huge benefit for the health.
Satisfying the Nicotine Craving
Nicotine pouches deliver a steady release of nicotine in a convenient and discreet manner.
Since nicotine pouches can be used for up to one hour, they can release nicotine whilst you go about your day without thinking about it.
The Future of Nicotine Pouches
Nicotine pouches have come a long way since their inception and it doesn’t look like their popularity is decreasing anytime soon. In fact, nicotine pouches present a major shift in the nicotine and tobacco market as a whole where consumers are looking for less harmful nicotine alternatives, ideally without the tobacco.
As more and more countries are adopting a harm-reduction approach to tobacco, nicotine products present a great alternative. As governments take this approach in line with their efforts of reducing smoking, this product can play a crucial role in this transition.
The number of brands, flavors, and variants available on the market has also exploded as the popularity of this product grows. Whilst there was only a few brands available in the early days, there’s now an endless selection of options for consumers.
Regulatory Changes on the Horizon
As the popularity of nicotine pouches grows, so too does the attention from regulatory bodies. Across the globe, countries are grappling with how best to regulate this new category of nicotine products. In some regions, nicotine pouches are subject to the same regulations as traditional tobacco products, while in others, they fall into a regulatory gray area. As more research is conducted into the health effects of nicotine pouches, we can expect to see changes in regulations, which will undoubtedly shape the future of this industry.
Since nicotine pouches do not contain any tobacco, many legislations around the world have thus far not explicitly covered this type of novel nicotine products. This has in some cases meant that nicotine pouches are available in markets where other products are not. For example, Swedish tobacco snus is banned in the EU but since nicotine pouches do not contain nicotine, they are allowed.
As nicotine pouches become increasingly popular, it’s likely that more and more countries will implement new legislations that apply specifically for novel nicotine products like nicotine pouches.
Looking ahead, it’s clear that nicotine pouches represent a new era for nicotine consumption. They have the potential to transform the industry and reshape societal attitudes towards nicotine use. With their roots in the centuries-old tradition of snus, they embody a blend of tradition and innovation that is truly unique.
Most importantly, nicotine pouches can work as one of the component in contributing to reducing the rate of smokers around the world and work as a less harmful alternative to traditional tobacco and combustion products.
The story of nicotine pouches is a fascinating journey that intertwines centuries-old traditions with modern innovation. The story of nicotine pouches has its roots in the origins of snus albeit a new nicotine product.
As we’ve seen, nicotine pouches are more than just a product. They are a reflection of changing societal attitudes towards nicotine use, a testament to the power of innovation, and a response to the evolving demands of consumers. Nicotine pouches are a symbol of the ongoing quest for a cleaner, less harmful way to enjoy nicotine.
While nicotine pouches are a relatively new addition to the nicotine product landscape, they have quickly become wildly popular around the world for all of the reasons discussed above.
They offer a tobacco-free alternative that’s discreet, convenient, and available in an endless selection of flavors. Moreover, they can be used anytime and anywhere unlike traditional smoking products which are mostly limited to outdoor use.