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    Why Are Nicotine Pouches Getting Popular?

    Why Are Nicotine Pouches Getting Popular?

    Cigarette smoking has lost its cool factor, and that is evidenced in two things.

    First, cigarette sales have fallen from 915 billion units in 2011 to 613 billion in 2023. Secondly, nicotine alternatives, particularly nicotine pouches, are gaining traction. A JAMA Network Open cross-sectional study found that nicotine pouch sales rose from 126.06 million units in the second half of 2019 to over 808 million units in the first quarter of 2022 alone.

    Evidently, there is a market for these smoke-free alternatives, especially as more become aware of cigarette smoking’s long-term risks. But what are nicotine pouches, exactly, and why are they growing in popularity?

    The lowdown on nicotine pouches

    Nicotine pouches are small, white pouches that usually come in portable tin or plastic containers. They are distinctive from tobacco-based products because of their content and form factor. Unlike what’s found in cigarettes, nicotine pouch ingredients are comprised of nicotine – either synthetically made or tobacco-derived – flavorings, plant-based fillers, water, and a pH adjuster. Together, these substances determine the flavor, strength, and intensity of the consumption experience. The same types of ingredients can be found in all nicotine pouches in the market; only the type and ratios of each may differ. Traditional cigarettes typically do not indicate nicotine strengths; with a container of pouches, the strength is clearly labeled so users can manage their nicotine consumption.

    More individuals may be transitioning to nicotine pouches because of the inconveniences, environmental risks, or health risks related to smoking. Unlike cigarettes, nicotine pouch restrictions are minimal; a Business Insider report indicates the discretion these options may provide in an indoor office setting. Because they are smoke-free and odor-free, they are less intrusive than cigarettes, which can leave unpleasant smells and pose potential fire hazards. Pouches are designed to be placed in the mouth, typically between the gum and lip, and the nicotine is absorbed through the oral mucosa from here. Once the nicotine and flavor are gone, users can store used pouches in a catch lid, minimizing waste and eliminating fire risks. These multiple benefits contribute to the popularity of pouches.

    Nicotine pouches vs. other alternatives

    Though nicotine pouches are not the only option out there, various studies have found that they tend to be preferred over other cigarette alternatives, such as snus, gum, or e-cigarettes. It’s also important to note that while they are not risk-free, they have been found to carry lower levels of toxicants. A Drug and Chemical Toxicology study discovered that nicotine pouches carried lower or even undetectable levels of harmful or potentially harmful constituents (HPHCs) compared to snus. In a randomized controlled trial published by Nicotine & Tobacco Research, nicotine pouches were found to reduce irritability at a higher rate than nicotine gum. In addition, the adult smokers studied rated nicotine pouches as “more helpful to stop smoking” significantly more than gum.

    Another reason more people may gravitate toward pouches is their general cost-effectiveness. The average price of a cigarette in the US can range from $6 to nearly $12. Meanwhile, a smokeless nicotine pouch experience only costs 22 to 25 cents on average. Finally, while nicotine pouches are not explicitly designed as a quit-smoking tool, many individuals are using them to transition away from tobacco-based products for good. A Tobacco Prevention & Cessation study of nearly 1,000 young adults found that 16.8% were using them to quit tobacco. They also saw them as less harmful and more socially acceptable.

    We’ve discussed the importance of knowing yourself, both your physical body and your mental health, and what it needs and what it does not respond well to. As perceptions toward cigarettes continue to evolve, nicotine pouches present an option for individuals looking to avoid specific outcomes associated with cigarettes. As it stands, the various strengths and flavors of nicotine pouches give people the opportunity to better customize and manage their nicotine consumption experience.

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