WHAT ARE NICOTINE POUCHES?
Nicotine pouches are designed to release nicotine into the mouth where it is absorbed by the lining of the mouth. They are a form of tobacco-free nicotine and instead use plant fibres contained in a white pouch, with flavouring and sweeteners added, that delivers nicotine over time. Some use nicotine from the tobacco plant but others use synthetic nicotine, but do not use the tobacco leaf like the Swedish ‘Snus.’
Smoking kills over 7 million people worldwide every year, with an estimated worldwide cost of 422 billion dollars US in healthcare for smoking attributable diseases in 2014.
I think ‘crikey’ is the word you’re looking for.
With numbers like that, it’s not just understandable but favourable for us to use alternative means of getting nicotine. Nicotine replacement therapy led the way, with the nicotine patch, nicotine gum and lozenges, nicotine inhalator, and even medications to help smokers quit - like Varenicline.
The relatively recent invention of the e-cigarette provides an alternative to smoking as a way of consuming nicotine but without the same harm, and has reinvigorated the nicotine market.
Now, we are seeing a resurgence in the idea behind snuff - a form of smokeless tobacco that is typically snorted in its dry form, or placed/chewed in the mouth in its wet form. The product we are now seeing as the spiritual successor to snuff is the aptly named ‘nicotine pouch’.
WHAT IS A NICOTINE POUCH?
Nicotine pouches are a form of tobacco free nicotine - they come as little semi-permeable packets a few centimetres long and about a centimetre wide, though you can get larger ones. A single pouch is placed between gum and lip, providing a slow release of nicotine for up to 60 minutes!
WHAT DOES A NICOTINE POUCH CONTAIN?
Nicotine pouches are available in a variety of strengths, but all contain nicotine. They are strictly white pouches, containing plant based fibres, flavouring, sweeteners - and the all-important nicotine. The type of nicotine used varies between brands, some extracting nicotine from the tobacco plant, while some are using lab created synthetic nicotine.
Unlike similar products - the Swedish Snus, for example - nicotine pouches don’t contain tobacco leaves, and instead use a dehydrated form of nicotine. This also means that nicotine pouches don’t need to be kept cold like Snus do!
NICOTINE POUCHES AND QUITTING SMOKING: HOW DO THEY WORK?
When a nicotine pouch is placed in the mouth, nicotine is absorbed through the lining of the mouth. This will generate a tingling sensation or ‘burning’ where the patch is on the lip and gum - don’t worry, this is just the nicotine acting on the gums. For some users (me included!) this can be a bit much!
For a smoker trying to quit, nicotine pouches enable the consumption of nicotine without the other chemicals found in tobacco, or chemicals made by burning tobacco - a great first step.
Nicotine pouches also keep the mouth busy, which can help keep a smoker preoccupied!
This may be a viable option for smokers with a severe lung condition. Many SMOKO customers report breathing much better within weeks of switching to the SMOKO E-cigarette, but if you have been told you shouldn’t vape then nicotine pouches offer a strong enough substitute to work.
How do you use a nicotine pouch?
The first time you pick up a nicotine pouch, you might find yourself asking ‘where exactly am I supposed to put this?’ The answer is - it’s up to you! Some people prefer placing it between the upper lip and gum, some prefer the bottom lip, to the sides of the mouth or around the front - it really doesn’t matter.
You will start to feel a tingling or burning sensation, and this can last a while - the nicotine strength of the pouch will affect this. The burn can be quite strong, and a shock for first time users, but often subsides after 15 minutes. Keeping the pouch in the mouth will deliver a steady supply of nicotine for up to an hour, though you can stop using the pouch whenever it suits you.
When you have had enough, just make sure to dispose of the nicotine pouch responsibly! Depending on the brand, there may be a compartment in the lid of the nicotine pouch tin solely for used pouches - so make use of this if there are no bins nearby.
New users should be aware of potential side effects, and these can include hiccups and upset stomach, and potentially a sore mouth.
The benefits nicotine pouches provide over tobacco products like Snus, snuff or chewing tobacco, are that it may be safer. These other tobacco products can cause gum disease, cavities and stained teeth, tooth loss and cancer of the mouth, throat, and pancreas.
How effective are nicotine pouches?
Nicotine pouches are shaping up to be an effective way to reduce the harm done by tobacco products. One study that investigated the overall nicotine delivery of oral nicotine pouches compared with smoking cigarettes concluded that nicotine pouches can deliver enough nicotine to match the nicotine intake of a smoker.
The only drawback was the time frame - it took over an hour for the blood nicotine level to reach the maximum concentration, suggesting that the nicotine pouch could work as a slow acting nicotine supply, where an e-cigarette, depending on the device, will take around ten minutes.
Seems like we’ve found the dream team!
One study investigated branded 4mg nicotine pouches compared to nicotine gum for addressing cravings and found that participants using the pouch experienced less irritability than those using nicotine gum. Users rated the pouch as more helpful for stopping smoking, and described it as ‘pleasant to use’.
Not quite how I’d describe it, but to each their own!
The approach of using two types of NRT is not a novel one, but could be an effective means of tackling nicotine cravings. As some forms of NRT are fast acting and others slow, it makes sense to combine the two to create a low but consistent level of nicotine, and use a fast acting product to address any sudden cravings.
Are nicotine pouches safe?
The safety of nicotine pouches is still being investigated, but it is likely that the pouches ‘expose users to lower levels of toxic compounds than Swedish snus’. As snus use is already recognised as less harmful than tobacco smoking, this puts nicotine pouches close to forms of Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) in terms of the level of toxicants they expose to the user.
What should you consider when purchasing a nicotine pouch?
Nicotine pouches are now available from a number of brands in a variety of strengths and flavours, so make sure you choose the right strength in your favourite flavour!
As the strength of the nicotine pouch can take users by surprise, it is suggested that users start on a low strength and work their way up - I would strongly agree with this!
Checking company and product reviews should help you purchase with confidence, so make sure to do this when buying your nicotine pouches. Well established brands in the field, like Nordic, are a safe bet!
If you are a smoker, then choosing an e-cigarette may be a better fit as the action of vaping is close to smoking, and gets nicotine into the system - a perfect match for tricking your brain into thinking it’s smoking! While some people may look to use a large vape pod, this may lead to vaper's cough, which is common with larger more powerful devices.
NICOTINE POUCHES: A COMPLETE GUIDE FOR BEGINNERS: CONCLUSION
The nicotine pouch has been around since 2003, so it isn’t entirely new, but with efforts to reduce the damage done by tobacco in full force, the nicotine pouch is rising to prevalence as another powerful weapon in our arsenal.
In my experience, the nicotine pouches do a superb job of occupying your mouth, and delivering sufficient nicotine to satisfy the greatest of cravings. The tingling/burning sensation may be too much for some users, so they may prefer other nicotine products.
Even if you are an e-cigarette user, nicotine pouches could be a great option for those times you can’t get outside to a smoking area, like at the airport or when flying. It’s also worth noting that the impact on others is eliminated by using a nicotine pouch - there is no second hand smoke or e-cigarette aerosol to speak of, so the social impact of your nicotine addiction is gone!!
If you already use nicotine pouches but still struggle with sudden cravings, consider picking up one of SMOKO’s E-cigarette starter kits today! It could be the secret weapon you’ve been missing!