There has been a lot of talks lately about nicotine pouches. What are nicotine pouches? Are they more addictive than cigarette smoking? Are the concerns being raised by a section of Kenyans online genuine and scientifically proven? Is the product safe for anybody who enjoys using nicotine products?
According to Mr. Joe Magero, the Chair of the Campaign For Safer Alternatives that advocates for the use of nicotine pouches as compared to smoking, a lot of the sentiments flying across online platforms are from people who do not understand what nicotine pouches are and how they work.
For starters, 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.
The user puts a pouch between the upper lip and gum and leaves it there while the nicotine and taste is being released. When finished, the pouch is disposed of in household trash. The small pouches are used like chewing tobacco, but the user does not need to spit, as the contents of the pouches stay inside the pouches during use.
“Nicotine pouches are perfect products for smokers who want to quit smoking. It is also the perfect product for people who enjoy nicotine products. It does not cause cancer as some people claim,” said Mr. Magero.
It is important to note that nicotine alone cannot cause cancer, but excessive use can lead to nausea and a higher heartbeat.
As a beginner to nicotine pouches, you might feel a slight burn under the lip as the body is unaccustomed to consuming nicotine via the oral system. Some flavors that contain menthol might intensify this feeling. A way of reducing the burn is either to swap sides of the lip, drink some water or spit out the excessive saliva.
Many people believe nicotine pouches have the same side-effect as the tobacco pouch or snus, which is untrue as the product is all white and free of tobacco.
“Kenya has over 10 million smokers. How many years have we been shouting about tobacco being harmful? So many. This means that these smokers are willing to continue smoking irrespective of what society thinks about them. They know the risks but are not ready to quit,” added Mr. Magero.
According to an explainer by the Daily Nation, Nicotine pouches are made to deliver the same hit as a cigarette but without involving combustion or tobacco. “With cigarettes, combustion is what causes health effects such as cancer. With nicotine pouches, combustion has been eliminated,” said Mr. Magero.
Nicotine pouches are marketed as a safer alternative for smoking addicts who want to quit the habit but are addicted. The concept follows that of snus, a moist powder smokeless tobacco product originating from a variant of dry snuff in early 18th-century Sweden. Ex-smokers also prefer such alternative products as they will not yellow their teeth and blacken their lungs like cigarettes. Nicotine pouches are made to have a comfortable fit under the upper lip as the nicotine and flavor is released to deliver stimulation.
“The ministry of health should actually encourage the use of nicotine pouches as compared to smoking. They should put in place proper regulations, not banning the product but regulate its use,” said Mr. Magero.