What Are Nicotine Pouches, and How Can They Help With Smoking Cessation?

The release of the 1964 US Surgeon General’s report that definitively linked cigarettes to premature deaths from lung cancer and heart disease had massive ripple effects that continue to be felt today. Since then, smoking rates have steadily decreased, and every year, more people make the decision to kick their smoking habit with the help of smoking alternatives such as nicotine pouches.

Quitting smoking is highly beneficial for numerous reasons, as we discussed in a previous post. These benefits encompass both immediate and long-term improvements, such as avoiding the negative first-hand health effects, preventing its impact on the people around you, and the overall financial savings you can make. If you’re ready to quit, nicotine pouches can help you along the way. In this article, we’ll explain what nicotine pouches are and how they can offer support for smokers wanting to quit.

What are nicotine pouches?

Nicotine pouches are small, discreet, and smokeless products designed to deliver nicotine without the need for combustion. They typically contain nicotine, flavorings, and various base materials, such as plant fibers. Placed between the lip and gum, these pouches release nicotine that is absorbed orally. The rise of nicotine pouches can be credited to a combination of evolving consumer preferences, harm reduction efforts, and innovations in the tobacco industry.

This study traces the origins of nicotine pouches to a 2001 proposal from the US Institute of Medicine calling for nicotine products with fewer relative risks in an effort to reduce tobacco-related harm. Notably, nicotine pouches are thought to be inspired by the ‘Swedish experience,’ where despite having comparable tobacco product use to other European countries, the incidence of smoking-related mortality is among the lowest in Europe. Studies found that this is due, in part, to the popularity of snus in Sweden.

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In terms of appearance and usage, nicotine pouches are somewhat similar to Swedish snus. The main difference is that nicotine pouches do not contain any tobacco. Therefore, they have the potential to further reduce tobacco-related harm compared to snus.

How nicotine pouches help smokers quit

Nicotine pouches offer a harm reduction approach to assist smokers in their quit attempts. The Mayo Clinic highlights that using quit-smoking products can greatly increase the chances of quitting successfully, citing that only about 5% of people who stop using tobacco succeed without a cessation tool.

Functioning as a form of smoking alternative, nicotine pouches deliver nicotine without exposing users to the harmful chemicals associated with traditional cigarettes. More specifically, in contrast to cigarettes that contain and release high amounts of carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, arsenic, ammonia, and more, nicotine pouches contain extremely low amounts of toxicants, which researchers determined to represent a toxicological concern unlikely.

In addition, nicotine pouches are beneficial for addressing withdrawal symptoms and aiding in the gradual reduction of dependence on cigarettes. In the US market, ZYN nicotine pouches are among the most popular brands and offer a variety of flavors like coffee, citrus, and spearmint, which can be found on this page. ZYN pouches being available in 3 mg and 6 mg strengths further adds to the appeal. Some individuals adopt a gradual nicotine reduction strategy, starting with higher doses like the 6 mg strength and progressively transitioning to lower-dose nicotine pouches, eventually facilitating the cessation process.

Other cessation options include nicotine replacement therapies like nicotine gum, another harm-reduction cessation tool reported to be growing in popularity. However, unlike pouches, nicotine gum, like those by Nicorette, involves active chewing that influences nicotine’s absorption rate. Ultimately, the choice of cessation method depends on individual preferences, lifestyle, and the desired experience during the smoking cessation journey.

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Despite their potential benefits, the success of quitting smoking with nicotine pouches, like any cessation method, depends on various factors. Individuals are, therefore, encouraged to consult healthcare professionals for personalized guidance on their quit journey.