Tiny Pouch, Mean Punch: Zyn


Last year, my husband and I decided to quit smoking cigarettes. Along with my vanity and health, the cost was a huge motivator as at $16 a pack on Long Island, we were spending far too much money on early graves. We chose a quit date of November 1st, and off we went. 

While I quit cold turkey, my husband started using Zyn at the suggestion of a co-worker. Like many people, I had never heard of Zyn before. Zyn are nicotine pouches that look like little, white pillows. They contain nicotine salts, water, flavorings, sweeteners, and plant-based-based fibers. They are placed between the gums and the lip, just like dipping tobacco, and the nicotine from the pouch is absorbed into the bloodstream through the mouth. 

Unlike dip, Zyn contains no tobacco and come in either 3 mg or 6 mg tins. For comparison, a single cigarette contains anywhere from 11.9–14.5mg of nicotine. Zyn is not FDA approved as a nicotine replacement like lozenges, patches, or gum, yet despite lacking the FDA approval, some companies tout the pouches as a safer alternative to smoking. 

My husband used the 6 mg pouches while I remained cold turkey for the first month of quitting. But after one particularly bad day, I asked my husband if I could try a Zyn. Keep in mind, I am over two years sober and very careful about what substances I put in my body. 

But this was nicotine, a non-mind-altering chemical I had used consistently throughout my life and in sobriety, so I wasn’t too worried. Given I had been smoke-free for a few weeks, I did anticipate a slight head rush from the nicotine in the Zyn. What I did not expect was to practically fall over from the punch the little pouch packed. 

I had never felt anything like it before. I was suddenly wired, and I could almost feel my pupils dilate. I needed to lie down. Having been sober for a minute, I wasn’t used to feeling any kind of manufactured buzz outside of too much caffeine. I had smoked for over 20 years, and a cigarette had always made me feel relaxed. But the Zyn made me feel like I was on ether, yet my heart was racing and I got an immediate headache. I felt uncomfortable, spacy, and wasted.

Since I’m an addict, and my body got a taste of my beloved nicotine again, I continued to use Zyn even though they made me uncomfortable. Soon enough, my body adjusted to the nicotine and I didn’t feel like an alien using the product anymore so I figured they were safe. Eventually, I found that I had one in my mouth almost every waking minute of the day. 

Side effects vary from person to person and may include gastrointestinal upset, hiccups, dental issues, allergic reactions and mouth or gum irritation. My husband will occasionally get hiccups, but for me, I experienced gum bleeding and irritation. 

Zyn has exploded in popularity, and quite quickly too, it seems. The product is receiving more and more attention after Senator Chuck Schumer called for the FDA to crack down on the product, saying that they are “quiet and dangerous.” And he may have a point. While Zyn and similar nicotine pouch products continue to gain popularity, little research exists as to what the long-term health ramifications could be. 

Much like vaping was initially touted as a healthier alternative to smoking, we now know otherwise. So just like Ozempic, too much facial filler and now, nicotine pouches, we are just going to have to wait and see how they might be hurting the user. Hopefully, I will have quit Zyn by then, or risk becoming a potential statistic. 


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