Nicotine pouches are a new category of tobacco product similar to conventional tobacco products, such as moist snuff and snus. They are available in a variety of flavors, such as mint, licorice, coffee, cinnamon, and fruit, with varying levels of nicotine as high as 6 milligrams per pouch.
Nicotine pouches are gaining market share, but little is known about their chemistry or potential health risks. According to Nielsen data reported in an industry news article, Zyn nicotine pouch dollar sales in convenience stores increased 470% in the first half of 2020.
While specific health effects of nicotine pouches remain unknown, youth use of nicotine in any form is unsafe. Nicotine is harmful to developing brains: younger users are more likely to become addicted to nicotine, have more difficulty quitting, and may be at higher risk for addiction to other substances in the future.
Studies in rats have shown that chronic nicotine exposure during adolescence can diminish cognitive functions like reduced attention span and enhanced impulsivity during adulthood. Adolescent rats exposed to nicotine showed altered long-term emotional responses including enhanced anxiety and fear and could result in a depression-like state during adulthood.