Globally, most countries have been cracking down on tobacco cigarette smoking. This comes following decades of scientific research that proves smoking can cause significant health problems. In the US alone, this habit is considered the leading cause of preventable death. According to the CDC, this is because smoking can harm every organ and trigger the development or progress of other serious diseases. These include heart failure, stroke, certain cancers, and COPD, to name a few. Despite all these risks, almost 30 million Americans still smoke. 


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In line with this, several smoking cessation interventions have been introduced to the smoking public. Among all these, though, studies coming out of Sweden note that the use of nicotine pouches may be among the most effective and convenient. As such, it stands to reason that these products may help the US see similar results. 

Understanding nicotine pouches 

Although the alternative nicotine product industry has existed for decades, nicotine pouches are relatively newer, having only hit the mainstream in the mid-2010s. As seen on online retailer Prilla, nicotine pouches are small tobacco-free products that come in various flavors and strengths. Popular flavors like citrus, mint, coffee, and cinnamon, and strengths range from around 3mg to upwards of 8mg. There are currently several brands of nicotine pouches available today, and among the most renowned ones are ZYN, Rogue, and VELO. 

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So, how do nicotine pouches work? By simply tucking one between the gums and the inner cheek, users receive a steady dose of nicotine in the bloodstream, helping assuage cravings. A single pouch can be used for up to 60 minutes, ensuring maximum satisfaction. In the US, nicotine pouches are available as over-the-counter products, with online and physical stores selling them to buyers of age. 

How pouches can aid in the war against smoking

As reported in news publications like Bloomberg, Sweden has been leading the race against cigarette smoking. Since 2016, when nicotine pouches were first released in the country, smoking rates have dropped by half to just 6%. To compare, the European average is around 23%. Successful quit rates are also at an all-time high of 33%. The fact that one in five Swedes reports actively using nicotine pouches further links these products with lower cigarette smoking rates. 

Now, some may ask how pouches can reduce smoking incidences despite still having nicotine. The answer lies in its convenience, efficacy, and enjoyability. Aside from being easily accessible, nicotine pouches are also more discreet than other cigarette alternatives. For instance, nicotine gums, like Nicorette, require obvious chewing. Meanwhile, nicotine pouches are more subtle. At the same time, because they don’t cause staining, odor, or excessive drooling like snus, they’re easier to discard without mess. This allows consumers to use these products in most places, including public areas with stricter rules regarding nicotine items. 

As noted above, pouches come in various strengths and flavors, meaning users can tailor the experience. Smokers can choose the strength that suits their needs and pick flavors that help make usage more pleasant. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, nicotine pouches are effective means to curb withdrawal symptoms while slowly weaning off. Given that most smokers have a nicotine dependency just going cold turkey can cause a myriad of issues like weight gain, mood fluctuations, and fatigue. This causes many to relapse, which is why the average smoker undergoes up to 11 quit attempts before being able to quit permanently. 

Pouches versus vapes

One other cigarette alternative that’s gained widespread attention lately is vapes or e-cigarettes. As per the online resource AP News, surveys have found that e-cigarette use has risen to about 6% among all adults. As of 2023, this is equivalent to about one in 17 adults. Leading brands like JUUL and Elf Bar have made a name for themselves online, similar to nicotine pouches. This has drawn a comparison between the two. 

In reality, though, vapes carry their own health risks. Researchers from Johns Hopkins have found that vape coils leech toxic metals in the vapor. Apart from this, the heated element of e-cigs has even brought on a new lung condition called EVALI (e-cigarette, or vaping, product use associated lung injury). Nicotine pouches, on the other hand, while not totally risk-free, are smoke-less. This alone immediately means that users are not at risk of the aforementioned problems, thereby improving their chances of quitting cigarettes with less compromise. 

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About The Author

Shirley Ju is a Journalist & On-Camera Host based in Los Angeles. she's been writing and interviewing artists in the entertainment industry for over 12 years. she started her own show called Shirley's Temple, with a focus on mental health. Shirley lives, breathes, and sleeps music, and if there’s a show in LA, you can find her there. Born in the Bay Area, the Hyphy movement is in her blood. Follow her at @shirju on both Instagram and Twitter.

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