Explainer: All about nicotine pouches

nicotine pouch

A nicotine pouch brand that is being marketed locally. PHOTO | COURTESY

Before earning its carcinogenic tag, cigarette smoking was a norm. Before the 90s, you could smoke anywhere and at any time, including in airplanes and public transport buses.

Tobacco companies across the globe were minting cash faster than they could count it.

And, then, in May 2003, the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) was adopted by the World Health Assembly.

Enforced in February 2005 as a global response to the globalisation of the smoking-related cancer epidemic, the treaty required State parties to adopt and implement tobacco control measures.

We’re now a long way from the 80s. Smoking is no longer considered cool or sexy.

Tougher regulations and lifestyle changes have forced companies to diversify their businesses to appeal to more health conscious consumers.

Tobacco firms are constantly trying to reinvent and make “safer” products such as vapes and e-cigarettes and now the latest entry: nicotine pouches.


They are made to deliver the same hit as a cigarette but without involving combustion or tobacco.

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 flavour is released to deliver stimulation.

They come in a variety of choices with different flavours, strengths, pouch sizes and textures.


In July, British American Tobacco announced that they would be introducing their brand of nicotine pouches to the Kenyan market.

This past weekend, during the Cocktail Festival at Dari Restaurant, Karen, revellers got to try out a nicotine pouch product called Lyft.

The reactions on social media have been varied, with many users saying it gives a feeling of being high in a very short span between placing it and the time it takes effect.

The effects can be further heightened if one has been drinking alcohol.

Besides Lyft, other world renowned nicotine pouch brands include Velo, On!, Dryft, Zyn and Nordic Spirit.


However, it is important for consumers to note that there is no independent testing of their constituents, exposure or biomarkers of their effects.

Also, research to analyse their nicotine delivery is unavailable.

Although most experts agree that nicotine does not directly cause cancer, according to medicalnewstoday.com, some research suggests that nicotine may lead to a type of DNA damage that increases the risk of cancer.

Nicotine is also a very addictive substance. So those who weren’t previously smokers need to be wary of this when consuming tobacco-free nicotine alternatives.

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