Chuck Schumer Attacks Lifesaving Zyn Nicotine Pouches
Less than three months after launching an attack on energy drinks, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D–N.Y.) has a new target: Zyn nicotine pouches.
In a press release Sunday, Schumer labeled Zyn a “quiet and dangerous” alternative to vaping, claiming that with the decline in smoking, tobacco companies are adapting by focusing on new products like oral nicotine. Zyns are small pouches of nicotine meant to be placed between the lips and gums. Two strengths of the product are available at three and six milligrams of nicotine, and they come in several flavors.
Schumer’s ire appears to have been raised by the rapid growth in sales of nicotine pouches and so-called “Zynfluecers” on TikTok promoting the product. Schumer fears nicotine pouches could become a teen trend, as vaping did in 2019 before rapidly declining as the tobacco age was raised to 21 and schools became more aware of the problem. To head off a potential increase in youth nicotine addiction, Schumer wants the Federal Trade Commission and the Food and Drug Administration to investigate the marketing of Zyn and potentially restrict their flavors.
But Schumer’s framing has the story backward. Zyn is not a dangerous alternative to vaping but a dramatically safer alternative to smoking. One of the reasons smoking has declined substantially over the last decade is because safer nicotine alternatives like vapes and Zyn are switching smokers away from cigarettes. The closest equivalent for which we have decades of data is an oral smokeless tobacco called snus. Snus is most prevalent in Sweden, and not coincidentally, Sweden has the lowest smoking and lung cancer rates in Europe because those interested in using nicotine do so in a much safer form.
Schumer is right that nicotine pouches are enjoying enormous sales, but he would be wrong to assume nicotine-naive youth are driving these sales. According to the National Youth Tobacco Survey, only 1.5 percent of middle and high schoolers use nicotine pouches, and just 2.3 percent have ever tried a nicotine pouch. Even among the minority of young people who use products li
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