Nicotine pouches are a convenient, tasty and discreet way to use nicotine, and more consumers are discovering them every day. Unlike vaping (or smoking), they can be used almost anywhere. Nicotine pouches contain no tobacco, and are part of the new “modern oral” nicotine product category, along with some nicotine lozenges and gum.
The American market for nicotine pouches has expanded rapidly over the last couple years, with new brands appearing regularly. Our short list is based on products we’ve tested, and includes the biggest and most popular U.S. brands. Each brand differs slightly in flavor and nicotine strength options.
Made in Sweden, and sold in the U.S. by Altria subsidiary Helix Innovations, on! is one of the most popular and widely distributed pouch brands. They come in seven flavors and five nicotine strengths, ranging from 1.5 to 8 mg per pouch. The pouches, which come in packs of 20, are very small. Helix says they provide 20 minutes of flavor.
ZYN is the original nicotine pouch, manufactured in the U.S. by snus market leader Swedish Match. Available in 10 flavors, ZYN pouches come 15 to a can, and are available in 3 and 6 mg strengths. ZYN is the most popular pouch brand in the U.S., and is widely available online and in convenience stores. The manufacturer says flavors last 30 minutes.
One of the many new brands using synthetic nicotine, FRĒ has two nicotine options—9 and 12 mg. The high nicotine levels appear to be aimed at smokers who want to quit and high-nicotine vapers. The company says FRĒ pouches last 45 minutes. They come in five different flavors, 20 to a package.
NIIN is made with synthetic nicotine, and is the only brand in our roundup that is pre-moistened, or “primed.” The five NIIN flavors are available in 3 or 6 mg strengths, and last about 30 minutes. Each can contains 20 pouches.
Like NIIN and FRĒ, FR3SH uses synthetic nicotine in its pouches, which are available in four flavors and two nicotine strengths, 4 and 6 mg. Each package contains 20 pouches, which FR3SH says last 30 minutes.
American-made Rogue pouches are sold in four flavors and two nicotine strengths, 3 and 6 mg. They are the largest-sized pouch sold in the U.S.—close to twice the size of an on! pouch—which some people love and some don’t. There are 20 Rogue pouches in each classy metal tin.
The original VELO pouches (available now only in mint and citrus flavors) are packaged 15 to a metal can, and sold in 2 and 4 mg strengths. Last year, Reynolds American (RJ Reynolds, now a subsidiary of British American Tobacco) bought American pouch manufacturer Dryft, and incorporated all eight Dryft flavors into the VELO line. The pouches formerly known as Dryft are sold in a round plastic can of 20 VELO pouches. The new flavors are available in 2, 4 and 7 mg strengths (the 7 mg ones are branded VELO MAX).
Based on Swedish snus “portions,” nicotine pouches are thin, porous fiber bags containing a food-grade filler material similar to chewing gum, flavorings and pharmaceutical-grade nicotine. The most popular flavors are various kinds of mint and wintergreen, citrus, cinnamon, coffee and fruit. While they don’t contain any tobacco leaf, pouches that use tobacco-derived nicotine fall under FDA authority, which is why the recently introduced brands use synthetic nicotine. Like snus, they don’t require the user to spit.
Nicotine pouches are placed between the inner cheek and gum, and once moistened, they deliver flavor to the taste buds and nicotine to the blood vessels in the mouth. The flavor and nicotine release generally lasts between 30 and 60 minutes. When the flavor dissipates, you throw them in the trash, or keep them in the “catch lid”—a hiding place for used pouches copied from snus cans.
While nicotine pouches are not approved as nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products like pharma-made gum and patches, they can—like vaping—serve as an alternative to smoking for nicotine users who want to quit cigarettes. A tasty nicotine pouch can keep your cravings at bay, making it easier to quit cigarettes (or vapes).
It’s possible to get buzzed from nicotine pouches, depending on your personal nicotine tolerance. They come in multiple strengths, so it’s relatively easy to figure the right amount with experimentation. If you’re a light vaper or an occasional smoker, 2 or 4 mg pouches may be best. People who use high-strength nicotine salts or smoke regularly will probably gravitate to high-strength pouches (6 mg or higher). Nicotine-naive users are likely to experience more of the unpleasant side effects of nicotine, like stomach pain or esophageal discomfort (heartburn).
Using a nicotine pouch is as easy as it gets. In fact, the hardest part will probably be figuring out how to open the package! Here are some tips for getting the best experience with them.
Use the appropriate strength for your nicotine tolerance level. Remember that you’ll keep absorbing nicotine for a while after you remove the pouch from your mouth—so start low!
For nicotine users like vapers who don’t like the flavor of tobacco, nicotine pouches are the ideal product to use where vaping isn’t an option. And for smokers, they’re yet another low-risk nicotine option that can help you transition away from cigarettes.