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Nicotine Pouches Become Increasingly Popular as Smoke-Free Alternatives

Nicotine Pouches Become Increasingly Popular as Smoke-Free Alternatives

Cigarette smoking is widely known to be one of the leading causes of preventable death and disease, including lung cancer. Although research shows advancements in lung cancer treatment through inhalable therapy, one of the most practical ways to enhance survival rates and reduce the global prevalence of smoking-related morbidity and mortality is through quitting smoking. Beyond reducing the risk of developing chronic diseases, smoking cessation can have a range of immediate and long-term benefits, from stabilizing the heart rate to increasing life expectancy.

Since smoking cessation comes with challenges like withdrawal symptoms, smokers are encouraged to switch to smoke-free alternatives to ease the transition. Among the available alternatives in the market are nicotine pouches, which are inspired by Swedish snus and contain nicotine, flavorings, and other ingredients to relieve cravings via oral absorption. Although these oral pouches are relatively new in the smokeless category, the insights discussed below signify their increasing sales and popularity in the United States and worldwide.

A look at the popularity and sales of nicotine pouches

As previously mentioned, nicotine pouches arrived after the introduction of other oral smoke-free products like gums and lozenges in the market. However, a comprehensive study by Georgetown University’s Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center notes the increased use and awareness of oral nicotine pouches. Specifically, about 35% to 42% of adult tobacco users aged 18-34 have heard of nicotine pouches. Findings also indicate that nearly 3% of adults were active nicotine pouch users in 2023, while 16% have tried them at some point in time.

Furthermore, online retailer Prilla’s insights on the global nicotine pouch market also denote a growing demand for nicotine pouches in terms of sales and revenue. In 2023, the nicotine pouch segment of the broader smokeless category was worth $2.04 billion and is forecasted to reach an overall value of $26.80 billion by 2032. This growth rate can be attributed not only to the North American market accounting for the largest revenue share but also to the Asia-Pacific region seeing a surge in pouch sales. The following section outlines the other factors responsible for the continued demand for nicotine pouches among consumers.

Growth factors for the nicotine pouch industry

Tobacco-free properties

The viability of nicotine pouches as smokeless alternatives mainly lies in their tobacco-free properties. Oral pouches use synthetic nicotine to directly relieve intense cravings and withdrawal symptoms, unlike cigarettes and cigars that contain tobacco-derived nicotine and thus worsen health outcomes. In fact, a study published in the European Journal of Drug Metabolism and Pharmacokinetics demonstrates the effectiveness of nicotine delivery through pouch use.

Researchers found that oral pouches can supply nicotine in amounts sufficient to replicate cigarette smokers’ nicotine uptake, thereby making them effective for smoking cessation without inducing the same adverse health effects as tobacco products. Being tobacco-free also means pouches can be used discreetly in public places like offices, public transit, and restaurants since they do not emit any smoke, odor, or residue.

Mainstream accessibility

Aside from their tobacco-free properties, another significant contributor to the increasing demand for pouches is their accessibility. To start, convenience stores are continuously investing in oral nicotine pouches to offset declining tobacco sales due to local flavor bans and excise taxes. As more and more retailers include pouches in their array of smokeless products, the segment recorded a 63% increase in dollar sales and a 49.4% surge in unit sales throughout a 52-week period.

In addition to offline distribution channels like convenience stores and gas stations carrying pouches, smokers looking to use pouches for effective cessation can also leverage e-commerce to have their preferred flavors and strengths shipped directly to their doorsteps. Overall, there is potential for nicotine pouches to continue supporting smokers throughout their transition to smoke-free lifestyles.

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