So this is the story of how I got into tobacco pouches in the first place....
When I turned 28 I had a bit of a realization - after starting smoking at 14 - hitting 28 meant I’d been smoking for 50% of my life. Now obviously I know smoke is bad (boring!) - but half my life spent inhaling combustible material on purpose probably wasn’t a great idea… it was then that I decided to attempt to quit.
Now I won’t pretend it’s worked completely just yet - but as with many other smokers - I began exploring alternative options to minimise the risk to my health. The first obvious choice was to switch to a ‘vape’ or ‘e-cigarette’.
This worked for a fair while - it was a novelty - you get lots of tasty flavours and some of that same ‘hand to mouth’ experience you become so used too as a smoker. However - given the nanny state laws in the UK - you still have to pop out into the cold for a ‘smoke’ and it was never quite the same as a good old fashioned cigarette - but still carried many of the downsides.
Now I’m in no doubt vaping is ‘less bad’ for you than smoking - however the more research I read - combined with a bit of common sense - I realised inhaling the vapour of a liquid with some of the same dubious substances as cigarettes still probably isn’t a great idea.
For example I saw a recent report including mass spectrometry results from a sample of vape juice than contains Benzene (aka rocket fuel) that’s also present in cigarette smoke - and that’s just for starters. As I understand it there isn’t a huge amount of legislation around the contents of vaping liquids - and some potentially harmful ingredients are in such relatively small quantities manufactures aren’t obliged to list them on the packaging.
So bottom line - vaping isn’t as bad for you as smoking - but it still carries risk - and much of that risk is currently unknown due to the infancy of the marketplace and the products sold.
My lungs are kinda precious to me (breathing is useful!) and I’m keen to maintain good cardiovascular fitness. Smoking or vaping isn’t going to help me out in that arena.
So I started to look for alternative way to find that nicotine hit I enjoy without the downsides associated with smoking or vaping - and that’s when I discovered ‘nicotine pouches’…
Nicotine pouches are white pre-portioned pouches containing nicotine but no tobacco, and are described as either similar to or a tobacco-free version of snus. No combustion is involved. The user puts a pouch between the upper lip and gum, and leaves it there while the nicotine and taste is being released.
Source - Wikipedia
Now there isn't a great deal of research specific to this product (the Wiki article highlights this) - and I'm not sure how well other nicotine related studies relate - but it's my lungs I'm worried about here - not specifically the negative effects of nicotine itself.
Similar to ‘snus’ (a traditional Swedish product) nicotine pouches contain no actual tobacco and are actually used in Norway as a nicotine replacement therapy - similar to nicotine patches here in the UK. Essentially you tuck a small white pouch under your lip and enjoy. No more fag breaks in the cold!
Lucky for me - many of the suppliers / UK distributors are on a marketing push - and I’ve had the opportunity to get products from 3 different brands free of charge.
As of now my smoking is down to around 90% of what it might usually have been - and that's only been on social occasions.
Cover Photo by Kilian Seiler on Unsplash