What is Zyn? Doctors share health concerns of the popular and controversial nicotine pouch (2024)


By Sara Moniuszko

Edited By Kerry Breen

/ CBS News

It's not a cigaretteor vape, because there's no smoke. And it's not chewing tobacco, because there's no tobacco or spitting required. It's called Zyn, a brand of nicotine pouches that are gaining popularity, especially among younger demographics.

Some proponents of the pouches say it gives them a rush, while others hope it'll help them kick a smoking habit. So-called "Zynfluencers" can be seen popping the little white pouches between their gums and cheeks on social media.

Others, however, are warning against the product, noting health concerns. In addition to nicotine, the pouches also contain plant-based fibers, sweeteners and flavorings like cinnamon, citrus and coffee.

"We are hooking a whole new generation of young people on to nicotine,"Dr. Nidhi Kumar told CBS New York. "The marketing strategies, the packaging looks like candy, flavors like cinnamon and mint and even names like 'smooth' or 'chill.' I mean, who are these products appealing to? Young people."

Sen. Chuck Schumer recently issued a warning about Zyn, describing them as a "pouch packed with problems."

"These nicotine pouches seem to lock their sights on young kids — teenagers and even lower — and then use the social media to hook 'em," he said at a press conference.

Here's what to know about health risks and concerns of Zyn.

What is Zyn? Doctors share health concerns of the popular and controversial nicotine pouch (2)

Are Zyns better than vaping?

Unlike smoking and vaping, Zyn is smoke- and tobacco-free — but the pouches still contain nicotine, an addictive chemical.

This makes the product legal only for those 21 and above. The brand's warning label states the product is not intended for use by "minors, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, or persons with or at risk of heart disease or high blood pressure."

"If you do not currently use nicotine, ZYN is not for you," the brand's website declares. Users of the website must verify their age before perusing the page.

Kumar told CBS New York that the pouches are "marketed as being products that can help you quit smoking," but said that experts "have no data to substantiate that."

Philip Morris International, the parent company of Zyn manufacturer Swedish Match, told CBS News it has not marketed the product for smoking cessation, and says all of its products "fully meet and exceed the regulations governing the industry."

"Our marketing practices—which prohibit the use of social media influencers—are focused on preventing underage access and set the benchmark for the industry. Real-world evidence shows this approach is working: the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the FDA show oral nicotine pouch use by those under the legal ageremains exceptionally low," the company said in a statement.

Even if using these products as an alternative to smoking, Dr. Mustali Dohadwala, medical director and practitioner at cardiology-focused private practice Heartsafe, says he wouldn't consider it a lesser of the two evils. Instead, "it's certainly a different evil."

"It's supposed to serve as a methodology for weaning, and you could argue that it can be even more difficult to quit a use of nicotine due to the flavor profiles... that are being marketed, manufactured and the way they're making it stylish to consume these products," Dohadwala says.

Does Zyn raise blood pressure or cause gum damage?

While we don't know the long-term effects of Zyn yet, health experts say there are several health concerns to be aware of when it comes to nicotine use, including cardiovascular, gastrointestinal and oral health impacts.

"We know that it increases heart rate (and) blood pressure," Dohadwala says. "In particular to oral nicotine pouches, what I worry about is periodontal disease. There are toxic chemicals in these pouches, which can lead to injury of the gums. Persistent, recurrent injury can end up leading to inflammation, infection but most importantly cancer."

Kumar echoed the concerns of periodontal and gum disease.

"If you're using these products, just Google nicotine pouches and dental disease — you'll spit it out right away," she said.

There can also be gastrointestinal effects, she added, including nausea and vomiting. Some users have also reported experiencing hiccups and diarrhea.

It can also increase your risk of diabetes in the long run, she said, since nicotine interacts with your cells to make you glucose and insulin intolerant.

Nicotine, addiction and mental health impacts

The negative impacts of nicotine go beyond physical health and into mental health as well.

While nicotine produces an immediate sense of relaxation, Kumar explained that the feeling is short-lived.

"When it wears off, there's a spike in edginess and anxiety, even stressful types of feelings," she said. "So it creates this vicious cycle because then you have cravings that wants you to get that relaxation feeling again but in the end it ends up increasing your anxiety level and your stress level when you use these products."

Another impact that's top of mind? Addiction, Kumar said, adding young brains are particularly vulnerable to the condition.

If you're dealing with nicotine addiction, Dohadwala says seeking professional help, like seeing an addiction specialist or psychologist, is important.

"It's important, too, for any person who ends up struggling with this addiction of consumption to understand that it is an addiction," he says. "It is something that's going to take time. This is not a sprint by any means, it is a marathon."

He also warns young people to be aware of the potential consequences if they're choosing to dabble in these pouches for fun.

"There are so many things out there that are trendy, and something that is artificial, that's potentially toxic to your body, you would want to really be cautious," he says. "There are untoward effects that are related to experimenting with these things, and at times those experimentations end up becoming habits and addictions."

If you or a loved one is experiencing a problem with substance use, help is available via theSubstance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Helplineat 1-800-662-HELP.

  • Cancer
  • Tobacco

Sara Moniuszko

Sara Moniuszko is a health and lifestyle reporter at CBSNews.com. Previously, she wrote for USA Today, where she was selected to help launch the newspaper's wellness vertical. She now covers breaking and trending news for CBS News' HealthWatch.

What is Zyn? Doctors share health concerns of the popular and controversial nicotine pouch (2024)


Can nicotine pouches cause health issues? ›

Long-Term Side Effects of Nicotine Pouches

It can cause heart, lung, stomach, and fertility problems, raise your blood pressure, and weaken your immune system.

What does ZYN do to your brain? ›

Over time, and with repeated exposure, the brain's sensitivity to dopamine changes, which leads to a higher tolerance for the drug and changes in other brain circuits involved in learning, stress, and self-control, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. This can lead to addiction.

What is ZYN? ›

Zyn is an oral pouch that contains nicotine powder and flavorings like mint, coffee and citrus. The pouches are the fastest-growing segment of the tobacco industry, which has struggled for decades to replace falling cigarette sales. Zyn is marketed by Philip Morris International to adult tobacco users.

What are all the chemicals in ZYN pouches? ›

ZYN nicotine pouches

The pouch measures 14 × 28 mm and weighs 0.4 g. The pouch contains fillers (maltitol and microcrystalline cellulose), a stabilizer (hydroxypropyl cellulose), pH adjusters (sodium carbonate and sodium bicarbonate), a nicotine salt, food grade flavorings, and a sweetener (acesulfame K).

Is ZYN bad for your heart? ›

But the nicotine in Zyn pouches is highly addictive and it may increase cardiovascular disease risk in people not already using nicotine products, Rees said. “Teens and young adults who do not smoke or vape should avoid this product,” he said.

Do nicotine pouches damage gums? ›

Holding the pouches close to the gingival tissue can cause mechanical injury and irritation [26]. Severe attachment loss and gum recession was found among tobacco chewers.

Does ZYN cause anxiety? ›

While nicotine produces an immediate sense of relaxation, Kumar explained that the feeling is short-lived. "When it wears off, there's a spike in edginess and anxiety, even stressful types of feelings," she said.

Does nicotine affect memory? ›

For example, nicotine influences a wide variety of cognitive functions such as attention, learning and memory (Yuan et al., 2015) and has been found to improve cognitive impairment in disease-induced cognitive disorders, including Alzheimer's disease (AD), Parkinson's disease (PD), age-associated memory impairment, ...

Does nicotine raise blood pressure? ›

It has since long been known that blood pressure and heart rate increase during smoking. These effects are specifically associated with nicotine while the other components of which more than a thousand have been isolated seem to be of minor importance.

Is nicotine a carcinogen? ›

No. Nicotine is a common chemical compound found in tobacco plants, and its effect is to make tobacco addictive rather than to cause cancer directly. People who are addicted are more likely to continue to expose themselves to the carcinogens in smoked or smokeless tobacco.

Can you use ZYN to quit vaping? ›

It is not recommended to use nicotine pouches like Zyn to try to quit vaping. Nicotine pouches are very addictive because they can contain high concentrations of nicotine. Using Zyn to try to quit vaping can just leave you with a different product you're trying to quit.

Does ZYN break a fast? ›

ZYN explains that one ZYN pouch contains ”less than 1% of the daily recommended carbohydrate allowance”. This, as mentioned, translates to less than one calorie. That said, with such a minuscule level, nicotine pouches generally do not break the fast.

What are the effects of ZYN pouches? ›

However, the long-term health effects are unknown, and nicotine exposure can harm brain development in teens and young adults, leading to addiction and potential long-term consequences. When nicotine enters the bloodstream, it can increase blood pressure and heart rate.

Do on nicotine pouches have carcinogens? ›

Sold in 3 mg and 6 mg doses, the pouches deliver nicotine directly into the bloodstream through the mouth's membrane lining, rather than through the lungs. In many ways, the pouches are safer than other nicotine products on the market because they do not use tobacco leaves and therefore have fewer carcinogens.

How much salt is in zyns? ›

Does ZYN contain sodium? In one ZYN, you'll find less than 10mg of sodium or less than 0.5% of your daily recommended value based on a 2,000-calorie-per-day diet.

Are nicotine pouches more harmful than cigarettes? ›

However, there is very little evidence available to confirm its long-term health risks. Even though nicotine pouches contain fewer harmful chemicals than smokeable tobacco, they still contain cancer-linked TSNAs and carry a risk of several side effects, including nausea, hiccups, and mouth irritation.

What are the long-term side effects of nicotine? ›

Chronic systemic exposure to nicotine from cigarette smoking may contribute to accelerated coronary and peripheral vascular disease, acute cardiac ischemic events, delayed wound healing, reproductive disturbances, peptic ulcer disease, and esophageal reflux.

What are the side effects of synthetic nicotine pouches? ›

In many ways, the pouches are safer than other nicotine products on the market because they do not use tobacco leaves and therefore have fewer carcinogens. But they are not risk-free: They can be addictive and cause cardiovascular issues, gum damage, and nausea.

Is 6mg of nicotine a lot? ›

Choosing between 50:50 e-liquids and 30:70 juices depends entirely on your vaping style – more on that here. 6mg of nicotine is a low-medium strength that most closely resembles Ultra-Light cigarettes. E-liquids with a 6mg nicotine strength are ideal for light smokers who smoke up to 10 a day.


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Catherine Tremblay

Last Updated:

Views: 6343

Rating: 4.7 / 5 (47 voted)

Reviews: 94% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Catherine Tremblay

Birthday: 1999-09-23

Address: Suite 461 73643 Sherril Loaf, Dickinsonland, AZ 47941-2379

Phone: +2678139151039

Job: International Administration Supervisor

Hobby: Dowsing, Snowboarding, Rowing, Beekeeping, Calligraphy, Shooting, Air sports

Introduction: My name is Catherine Tremblay, I am a precious, perfect, tasty, enthusiastic, inexpensive, vast, kind person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.