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June 18, 20240

Online ZYN Sales Suspended Pending D.C. Investigation

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Jim McDonald

Online sales of ZYN nicotine pouches have been suspended by manufacturer Swedish Match North America (SMNA) after the company received a subpoena from the District of Columbia (D.C.) attorney general requesting information about flavored ZYN sales in D.C. 

The D.C. City Council passed a comprehensive flavor ban in 2021, outlawing the sale of all nicotine and tobacco products in flavors other than tobacco. The law took effect in 2022.

ZYN is the most popular nicotine pouch brand in the United States, and nicotine pouches are the fastest-growing nicotine product category in the country. Swedish Match, which is also the world’s largest producer of Swedish snus, was acquired in 2022 by Philip Morris International (PMI).

ZYN.com sales suspended; supply chain review underway

In a press release issued yesterday, PMI said SMNA would comply with the subpoena, and that PMI’s preliminary investigation “indicates that there have been sales of flavored nicotine pouch products in D.C., predominantly related to certain online sales platforms and some independent retailers.” 

The company said it is “conducting a full review of its sales and supply chain arrangements in D.C. and other U.S. localities where flavor bans may apply.”

PMI has suspended sales through ZYN’s website, but noted that “ZYN.com sales have represented a very small percentage of nationwide ZYN volumes since PMI’s acquisition of SMNA.”

PMI admitted that an “unfavorable outcome” in the D.C. matter could lead to “a material liability,” although it wouldn't speculate on the size of a potential judgment or settlement. 

ZYN: the new tobacco control bogeyman?

Tobacco control groups have taken notice of nicotine pouches as the product's sales have climbed in recent years. Groups like Truth Initiative have issued dire warnings about the threat of another “flavored tobacco product.”

Earlier this year, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) provoked an online firestorm when he urged the FDA and Federal Trade Commission to investigate ZYN and other pouch products. 

“It comes in a whole lot of flavors,” Schumer said at a January press conference. “Smooth, spearmint, citrus, cinnamon, chilled. It's dangerous.” 

Nicotine pouches are regulated by the FDA under the same Deeming Rule that gave the agency authority over vapes. Most nicotine pouch manufacturers, including Swedish Match, have FDA premarket tobacco applications (PMTAs) currently under review by the agency. The FDA hasn’t issued a decision on any nicotine pouch yet—nearly four years after the PMTA submission deadline in September 2020.

Nicotine pouches are similar to Swedish portion snus—except they contain no tobacco. They consist of a porous fiber pouch similar to a teabag that contains food-grade filler material similar to gum, various flavorings, and varying levels of nicotine. They’re usually sold in a can of 15 or 20 pouches.

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Jim McDonald

Vaping since: 13 years

Favorite products:

Favorite flavors: RY4-style tobaccos, fruits

Expertise in: Political and legal challenges, tobacco control haters, moral panics

Jim McDonald

Smokers created vaping without help from the tobacco industry or anti-smoking crusaders, and I believe vapers have the right to continue innovating to help themselves. My goal is to provide clear, honest information about the challenges vaping faces from lawmakers, regulators, and brokers of disinformation. I’m a member of the CASAA board, but my opinions aren’t necessarily CASAA’s, and vice versa. You can find me on Twitter @whycherrywhy

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