Are Zyns Bad for You? What Science and Experts Say

Zyn pouches are becoming more popular and have an increasing appeal to young people. These products, marketed as a discreet and — potentially — less harmful alternative to cigarettes, lead to curiosity and debate. However, before you slip one under your lip, you need to understand the potential health risks. In this article, we will delve into the composition of Zyn pouches, their short- and long-term effects, and how they compare to smoking and vaping.

What are Zyns?

ZYN is a Swedish brand, one of many that manufactures pouches or small bags filled with nicotine. They are placed discreetly between your gum and upper lip. They come in various flavors and nicotine strengths, offering a new tobacco-free alternative to already well-known e-cigarettes.


Unlike nicotine gum or lozenges, nicotine pouches are not FDA-approved for quitting smoking.

Definition and composition of Zyns

The ingredients found in Zyn pouches vary slightly depending on the flavor and nicotine strength. Nicotine salt is the primary ingredient, which provides the addictive nature of Zyn.

Then, we have fillers to bulk up and give texture to the pouch. These include products similar to what you will find in chewing gum, like maltitol and gum arabic.

Lastly, all sorts of additives, such as stabilizers for consistency and shelf life of the pouch, flavorings, artificial sweeteners, and acidity regulators.

Zyn nicotine pouches may pose as a tobacco-free alternative for nicotine delivery, and they come in a wide variety of flavors. This may be appealing to young people who may be unaware of the dangers of nicotine addiction.

Brief history of Zyns and their intended use

Nicotine replacement therapies are not new — things like patches and lozenges have been around for a long time and have a proven track record of helping people quit smoking.


Zyn pouches were first introduced in 2014 and gave life to a new category in the nicotine landscape. Yet, this is not a nicotine replacement therapy but rather a tobacco-free alternative for nicotine consumers, like smokers.

Evidence shows that nicotine pouches might not be an effective tool for quitting smoking. A study conducted in 2023 shows that these pouches could be less effective in reducing cravings and managing withdrawal symptoms when compared to other methods.

Are Zyns bad for you?

Zyn pouches are being massively marketed as a less harmful alternative to cigarettes. Yet, safety and some of the health effects are still unknown.

Short-term effects of using Zyns

Some of the most commonly experienced short-term side effects are related to the oral cavity or digestive system. For example, nausea, tooth decay, hiccups, sore mouth, and local irritation. These side effects may lessen with continued use.

However, a more serious short-term effect is the potential for increased heart rate and blood pressure due to nicotine-induced adrenaline release. This poses significant importance for people with pre-existing heart conditions.

Long-term health implications

While nicotine pouches are a tobacco-free alternative, their long-term health effects are still unclear and under investigation.

Some of the potential long-term side effects of nicotine pouches are:

  • Brain development. Teenagers' brains are still developing, especially the part that helps with focus and planning (prefrontal cortex). An animal study on adolescent nicotine exposure showed anxiety or depressive-like behaviors were induced by alterations in cognition. Nicotine can mess with the signals in this area of the brain, potentially explaining why teens who consume Zyn pouches might have trouble concentrating or paying attention.
  • Addiction. Nicotine is an addictive product, and Zyn pouches are not the exception. Your brain associates nicotine with pleasure, so you become physically dependent on it. Quitting can cause withdrawal symptoms.

Comparison with health risks of smoking and vaping

  • Smoking. This is by far the most unsafe option. When tobacco burns, it creates an array of harmful chemicals, including tar and carbon monoxide. These compounds directly contribute to the development of lung disease, cancer, heart disease, and stroke. Secondhand smoke also presents a significant health risk to others.
  • Vaping. E-cigarette smoke may contain fewer harmful chemicals than deadly cigarette smoke, but this does not make it a safer option. Scientists are still learning about the unknown health risks of flavorings and other additives. Some adverse health effects of vaping include lung irritation and nicotine addiction. However, long-term effects are yet to be established.
  • Zyn pouches. This method completely bypasses the lungs, but we still have that nicotine kick due to how it’s absorbed. Therefore, it’s still highly addictive, making quitting more difficult. As with vaping, the long-term health effects are yet to be fully understood.

How do Zyns work?

Unlike cigarettes, Zyn pouches don't involve burning tobacco. Instead, the nicotine gets absorbed directly through your gums. Most Zyn pouches use nicotine salts as the main component because they enter your body faster than regular nicotine.

Mechanism of action in the body

Once nicotine salts are absorbed through your gums, they enter your bloodstream and reach your brain. There, they interact with areas of the brain associated with pleasure and reward. This interaction causes the release of dopamine, a substance known for creating feelings of pleasure and reward. This is why nicotine products like Zyn pouches can be addictive.

Do Zyns cause cancer?

Zyn pouches might be a less risky option compared to cigarettes since they don't involve burning tobacco, and nicotine alone does not cause cancer. However, long-term studies on nicotine pouches are still lacking, and their usage is not risk-free.

Nicotine is a highly addictive compound — you can become dependent on nicotine pouches like Zyn and have trouble quitting. Nicotine might also increase your risk of heart disease.



While Zyn pouches may be advertised as a less harmful alternative to cigarettes, the long-term health effects remain unclear. They contain addictive nicotine and may have negative health consequences. If you're considering using Zyn pouches, especially if you have any underlying health concerns, talk to a healthcare professional to discuss the potential risks and benefits and explore options tailored to your particular situation.


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