What is a Nicotine Pouch?

By James Powley

Without a doubt, the best choice that any smoker can make is to stop tobacco and nicotine use altogether. However, for those adults who do not or will not quit, switching to a less harmful alternative is a better choice than continuing to smoke. There are several non-combustible and smoke-free alternatives to smoking, from vapes to heated tobacco to patches to gums. Nicotine pouches, a type of oral nicotine product, are one of the newer additions to the range of alternatives available.

Unlike oral tobacco products, which deliver nicotine through the inclusion of tobacco leaves, nicotine pouches are tobacco-free. So, what is a nicotine pouch and what does it look like? As the name suggests, a nicotine pouch – sometimes referred to as ‘tobacco-free snus’ or ‘white snus’ – is a small, pre-portioned pouch that delivers nicotine to the bloodstream via the oral mucosa (i.e. the gums).

What Are Nicotine Pouches Used For?

While the best solution is always to stop nicotine and tobacco use altogether, nicotine pouches are a smokeless and vapour-free alternative available for those who wish to continue using nicotine. Nicotine pouches deliver nicotine without producing smoke or vapour and can generally be used in areas where smoking or vaping may be prohibited.

How Do You Use a Nicotine Pouch?

To use a nicotine pouch, simply place the pouch underneath your top lip (between your cheek and gums). The pouch will begin to release flavour and nicotine which will be absorbed by the oral mucosa. Nicotine will continue to be delivered for up to an hour, but users can keep a pouch in place between 5 to 60 minutes – this may vary depending on the product. You may notice an intense tingling sensation or irritation in the gums while using nicotine pouches– this sensation will subside over time. Once the flavour and sensation of nicotine delivery have passed, the pouch can be thrown away.

Never chew or swallow a pouch – if ingested, contact a medical professional immediately.

What Is in a Nicotine Pouch?

Nicotine pouches are available with varying nicotine strengths such as 4mg, 6mg, 10 mg, etc. The nicotine concentration in nicotine pouches can also be expressed by terms such as mild, medium, strong and extra strong. Nicotine pouches commonly contain nicotine salts extracted from tobacco leaves or synthetic nicotine which is produced in a lab. The pouches also contain plant-based fibers (used to maintain pouch consistency), sweeteners and flavourings. Like electronic cigarettes, nicotine pouches come in a variety of flavours and nicotine intensities, typically ranging from 2mg to 12mg.

How are Nicotine Pouches Different from Other Smoke-Free Alternatives?

Nicotine pouches are one of many alternatives available to smokers. Another common alternative is vaping, or e-cigarettes. E-cigarettes are designed in part to create a familiar experience for smokers. Vaping involves heating e-liquid to produce a nicotine-containing vapour which is then inhaled by the user. Nicotine pouches, on the other hand, release nicotine into the bloodstream without the production of any vapour.

Heated tobacco products, such as IQOS, are another type of smoke-free alternative which produce a nicotine-containing vapour. Unlike vaping and nicotine pouches, heated tobacco products contain real tobacco in specially designed tobacco sticks. Unlike smoking, these products heat real tobacco rather than burning it; cigarettes produce tar – IQOS doesn’t.

Tar is the residue from smoke after a cigarette is burned.

IQOS does not produce tar because it heats tobacco instead of burning it. It generates an aerosol residue that is fundamentally different from tar and consists of significantly lower levels of harmful chemicals. *

Important Information: The absence of tar does not mean that IQOS is risk free. IQOS provides nicotine which is addictive

Switching completely to IQOS is less harmful than continuing to smoke. **

* Average reductions in levels of a range of harmful chemicals (excluding nicotine) compared to cigarette smoke.

** Source: Based on the totality of evidence available for IQOS in comparison with continuing to smoke.

Head to our smoking alternatives blog for more information.

Last Edited: 23rd November 2022

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This website is restricted to adults in the United Kingdom who would otherwise continue to smoke or use nicotine products. Our nicotine and tobacco products are not an alternative to quitting and are not designed as cessation aids. They are not risk-free. They contain nicotine, which is addictive. Only for use by adults. Please visit the Important Information page for further risk information.