What are Nic Pouches? Are They Safe?

What are Nic Pouches?

What are Nic Pouches? Are They Safe?

One of the most recent additions to next-generation nicotine delivery products are nicotine or ‘nic’ pouches. They are a new product, but they are utilitarian and simplistic in their design and function, especially when compared to potential competitors like e-cigarettes.

They were slow to gain traction outside of foreign markets, finding faster success in the US, Canada and their nations of origin. The biggest brands like Lyft, Velo, and Nordic Spirit for example hail from Nordic states like Sweden and Norway where pouches have become a popular alternative way to smoking or even vaping when it comes to satisfying nicotine cravings.

With time the UK market has warmed to these products also, and they can now be spotted in major KMGs as well as smaller retail outlets across the country. Anecdotal evidence cites users preference of pouches as being largely down to convenience and discretion – boasts that even vaping cannot match at the level pouches maintain.

As a relative newcomer to the ‘tobacco products’ scene, users and retailers have understandable questions about what these products are and whether or not they are safe. Faith in new nicotine delivery methods has been shaken regularly by the bad press vaping has faced, albeit in many cases falsely. Issues like the growing public health and youth access concerns around disposable vapes are only adding to consumers’ apprehension to engage with new products.

Below we will explore the basics around nic pouches so you can make a more informed decision about your inventory, or make an informed purchase for personal use.

What is a Nic Pouch?

While considered a ‘tobacco product’ in the eyes of current legislation, nic pouches do not actually contain any tobacco leaf or similar material – unlike their close counterparts ‘snus’. They are pre-portioned pouches containing either tobacco-derived or synthetic nicotine alongside food-grade fillers and flavourings. Their nicotine content can vary from as low as 1mg to as much as 120mg however the latter examples are not legal in the UK without a medical license.

These ingredients are housed within a porous fibre material that allows the nicotine to absorb when placed in the mouth. Different manufacturers use slightly different combinations of ingredients, but the principal is largely the same across all examples; nicotine and flavouring in a pouch that lets these gradually dissipate and be absorbed orally by the user.

How Do Nic Pouches Work?

Nic pouches deliver nicotine orally. This means it is absorbed through the membranes of your mouth. The user will typically place their chosen pouch between the upper lip and gum, in a position that is comfortable, although some brands recommend specific placement in the mouth; if in doubt, check the packaging.

As saliva passes through the pouch it draws out the nicotine and flavouring which delivers a tasty experience while satisfying a nicotine craving. The nicotine absorbs quickly through the gums, reaching your bloodstream faster even than via inhalation. They act in a similar way to nic salt e-liquids, which traverse the blood/brain barrier faster and therefore deliver more rapid satisfaction that lasts longer than other forms of nicotine can claim. The added bonus of nic pouches is that, if you do not wish to smoke or vape but still have cravings from an old habit, you can absorb nicotine in a flavourful way without risking damage to your lungs.

They are a simple concept that has proven popular, with may claiming to prefer the quick and easy approach to the perceived faff and complexity of vaping or alternatives like heat-not-burn tobacco like Phillip Morris’ IQOS. Nic pouches are more closely related to Nicotine Replacement Therapy products (NRTs) which include cessation mainstays like nicotine infused lozenges, gums and dermal patches.

Are Nic Pouches Safe?

The reality is that, similar to vaping in its early years, there is simply not enough long-term evidence to confirm or deny nic pouches’ safety. Snus, which can be easily confused for a nic pouch, has a longer history, but due to the difference in contents (snus contains actual tobacco material like leaf/dust/stem) mean they cannot be compared with enough accuracy to piggy-back any claims of safety.

While there is no substantial evidence of safety beyond manufacturers’ quality testing, there is no evidence claiming they are harmful either. Many people have begun using them as an alternative to both smoking and vaping and pouches are now carried by retailers across the UK, which infers at least basic manufacturing standards of safety and compliance are being adhered to for reputable organisations to promote their sale or stock them at all.

The biggest understood risks of using nic pouches derive from the nicotine itself and are comparable to those of excessive vaping. Nicotine overdose includes a range of unpleasant symptoms including headaches and nausea even in minor cases. Pouches specifically carry a risk of allergic reaction because of their direct contact with our skin/mouth, this can translate into mild irritation, a sore throat or more sever issues if an allergy is particularly acute.

As per any consumable, always check the label and ensure you are not allergic to any ingredients. If you remain unsure about their safety, which nicotine level to choose, or whether they are even a good fit for your lifestyle – speak to your GP. They will be best placed to advise a appropriate course of action to help ensure your quitting journey is a successful one.

Should I Stock Nic Pouches in My Store?

As a retailer, it is a good time to consider stocking nic pouches. Their market share is growing in the UK and they are gaining more popularity at a steady rate of knots. Despite the recent disposable vaping boom, the consumer demographics buying pouches are quite removed from those seeking disposable vapes. Their needs and goals are very different, and this should be remembered by any retailer wanting to promote pouches effectively.

Ensure you stock the leading brands which have already gained recognition as these carry the greatest conversion potential. It is vital however that before choosing to carry these products, you understand the regulations around their safety and promotion. With any new nicotine product, the law will inevitably evolve as the market develops and authorities understand more about the benefits, risks and relationship users have with the products. For support on keeping on top of regulations around these and vaping products, contact us today.


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