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Who Uses Nicotine Pouches in the United States?

Who Uses Nicotine Pouches in the United States?
Posted in: Science & Research

You may be unfamiliar with the concept of nicotine pouches, or maybe you know someone who uses them but aren’t sure how popular they really are. While you should always make your own choices based on your unique lifestyle preferences, it can be helpful to know you’re in good company when selecting a nicotine product for the first time.

The number of nicotine pouch users in the U.S. is growing—and quickly! But who is included in this group? You may be surprised to learn that many adults purchase these products for daily use. Here are some stats and reasoning behind the popularity of nicotine pouches.

What are nicotine pouches?

Nicotine pouches are tobacco-free pouches that you put under your lip to get nicotine delivery without the need for spitting or charging an electronic device. They come in flavored and unflavored varieties, as well as in different strengths and sizes. You can use them without anyone around you noticing, and they won’t stain your teeth or gums.

The bonus of these products is that you don’t have to spit or worry about where to toss combustibles. You can use them pretty much anywhere, and their slim profile keeps them hidden when in use. For these reasons, they are a top pick for adults who don’t want to openly identify as nicotine users, but they’re also embraced by those who proudly carry them everywhere.

Nicotine pouch use by the numbers

Just how many people are using nicotine pouches? Industry reports estimate there are around 1 million pouch users nationwide, with many of them coming to the product as former chewing tobacco or cigarette users. Women, in particular, are making the switch. They currently make up 25% of current pouch users in the market.

While past years have seen consumers buying more gum or patches, the new wave of pouch purchases is certainly making a mark. In fact, the first half of 2021 saw nicotine pouches making up more than 91% of sales in the “modern oral nicotine category.” This category covers items like patches, gum, and pouches that contain nicotine but no smoke or tobacco. Pouches have vastly outsold the other options, showing that those who want a smooth nicotine experience are reaching for pouches first. 

Will this number grow? It’s likely, as more than 70% of adult tobacco users have expressed an interest in switching to tobacco-free nicotine products, including pouches. With so many consumers looking for an alternative, it may be just a matter of time before they give pouches a try and use them to replace messier, smellier tobacco habits.

Who do nicotine pouches appeal to?

If that seems like a lot of users, it is! The growth in popularity has been driven by a few factors, but chief among them is the way you can use nicotine pouches in daily life.

Nicotine pouches are a go-to choice for those who want:

  • Smoke-free, vape-free, and hands-free nicotine delivery
  • No expensive devices or accessories to purchase, charge, or clean
  • Easy-to-use pouches that require no prep to enjoy
  • A variety of flavors, sizes, and strengths for different times of the day or occasions
  • Discreet, mess-free nicotine options that you can easily throw away
  • No staining, drip, or foul mouth odors

These products are nicotine products and are available for legal adults in the U.S. in accordance with state and local laws. That means that some adults won’t have access to the flavored varieties, for example, because they’re unavailable for sale in states that have banned flavor products.

Changes to user demographics during the pandemic

While nicotine pouches are a newer trend in products, the recent changes in how Americans live and work may have spurred their acceptance even faster than anticipated.

More respectful of others’ space

With so many people staying home during the pandemic, often in close quarters with loved ones or roommates, the traditional smoking, chewing tobacco, or vaping products may not have been ideal. Nicotine pouches provided a way for everyone to share space respectfully, without smoke, spit, or excessive waste.

More discreet use in work settings

As people return to the workplace, pouches will still have their place. Asking for smoke breaks can be a nuisance in the workday, and some employers won’t allow for smoking on the job at all. Vaping is often discouraged in the same manner. While workers may have been limited to nicotine gums or patches, they now have another option in pouches. Using them discreetly at work is an option for those who want a nicotine experience and can’t step away from the job or don’t find spitting appropriate while on the clock.

Online shopping

As people continue to shop from home—a trend that skyrocketed during the pandemic—they will find their favorite unflavored and flavored nicotine pouches online. Unlike other products that can’t be sold on the internet, these pouches can help people continue to enjoy their favorite flavors and strengths even when it isn’t safe or appropriate to leave the house for health or safety reasons.

Not getting to the store won’t be an excuse for those who use nicotine pouches, as they can be shipped to your door. Select states may have additional restrictions, including prohibiting flavored varieties.

Flavored vs unflavored nicotine pouches

Among the million users we referenced earlier, what kind of product are they buying? It’s hard to tell, as some people go with strictly unflavored options while others prefer sweet or minty experiences. Still, others like to mix it up with flavored and unflavored on the same day.

One thing to remember is that the offerings today for nicotine pouch users ensure that you can have just what you want in a flavor experience. Assuming flavors are legal where you live, you can choose to enjoy coffee flavors in the morning, mint in the afternoon, and a nice citrus burst in the evening—or whatever your preference! Some people with a sweet tooth insist on sugary-tasting options, while still others enjoy no flavor at all.

As long as you are of legal age to buy nicotine products where you live, there’s no reason you can’t try a few different kinds and see which option best suits your personality.

The bottom line on nicotine pouches in the U.S.

Since nicotine pouches first hit the market in 2016, sales have grown from $709,635 to $216.89 million in just the first half of 2020. Of those, mint flavors were the most popular, but fruit flavors grew the most in popularity. Because this growth has been so phenomenal, it’s likely to continue and cover every adult demographic in states where they are sold.

When asking “who buys these products?” the numbers certainly make it seem like anyone who enjoys a clean nicotine experience may very well be making these purchases. Retailers are getting the message, too.

As the varieties available for sale grow in number, convenience store managers are creating special displays for nicotine pouches away from other tobacco-less products. They know that pouch fans are discerning customers who know exactly what they want in a nicotine experience.


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