Is Zyn Bad For You? Here’s Where Doctors Stand on the Viral Nicotine Pouches

Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

You’ve likely heard of e-cigarettes, vapes, Juul, and chewing tobacco, but there’s a new nicotine alternative on the block, Zyn. It’s marketed as a “fresh way to enjoy nicotine,” but that begs the immediate question: is Zyn bad for you?

First things first: Zyn is a brand of smokeless, tobacco-free nicotine pouches that are inserted between the lip and gum to release nicotine that is absorbed through the oral mucosa (the inner lining of your mouth, cheeks, and lips) into the bloodstream, says Joyce Kahng, DDS, a cosmetic dentist and the owner of Orange and Magnolia Dental Studio.

The flavored pouches are intended to be a tobacco alternative, though the active ingredient is still nicotine and the purpose is to induce a buzzed or relaxed sensation, says Alexandra Kharazi, MD, a board-certified cardiothoracic surgeon and the author of “The Heart of Fear.”

Zyn’s website notes that it’s for those 21 and older, but the product has become increasingly popular among teens. In fact, a 2023 study conducted weekly surveys of more than 300 15- to 24-year-old Americans between December 2021 and May 2022 and found that 16 percent had tried nicotine pouches and 12 percent currently used them. The 2023 National Youth Tobacco Survey, conducted by the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, found that 1.5 percent of middle and high school students had used a nicotine pouch in the last 30 days.

But is Zyn bad for your heart? And what about your gums? POPSUGAR talked with experts to learn more about Zyn and its health implications.

What Is Zyn?

According to its website, Zyn is a smoke-free, spit-free, hands-free nicotine product. The pouch contains nicotine salt and “food-grade ingredients,” including granulation agents, stabilizers, fillers, pH balancers, sweeteners, and flavorings. The pouches are practically calorie-free (less than one calorie per pouch), range in strength from three to six milligrams of nicotine, and come in a variety of flavors like Cool Mint, Cinnamon, Coffee, and Citrus.

Zyn is not intended to help you quit smoking but is rather an alternative to smoking or dipping. The single-use pouch is placed between your upper lip and gum for up to one hour and is said to provide a nicotine buzz or head rush.

The Zyn Lawsuit

Zyn is intended for adults 21 and over, per the product website, but the tobacco alternative has come under major scrutiny for how it’s marketed to kids. In January, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called for federal action, asking the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Federal Trade Commission to evaluate Zyn’s marketing practices and negative health effects, noting the product is a “pouch packed with problems – high levels of nicotine.”

The Swedish brand has long been popular in Europe, but a recent spike in “Zynfluencers,” (aka those who promote Zyn on their social media platforms) has skyrocketed its popularity in the United States. With millions of likes and views on TikTok and Instagram, Senator Schumer says Zyn “locks their sights on young kids – teenagers, and even lower – and then uses social media to hook ’em.” As a result, the senator sent a “warning to parents” and urged the FDA to crack down and investigate Zyn’s marketing tactics.

Is Zyn Bad For You?

Zyn is marketed as an alternative to smoking or dipping, but that doesn’t mean it’s good for you.

The active chemical in Zyn is still nicotine, and nicotine has extremely detrimental effects on the cardiovascular system, Dr. Kharazi says. Not only does it increase heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen consumption of the heart, but it also narrows the cardiovascular arteries and limits blood flow to the muscles, further stressing the heart, she explains. The effects of nicotine on the liver aren’t as widely studied, but Dr. Kharazi says there is solid evidence to conclude that long-term nicotine consumption impairs liver function and contributes to fatty liver disease.

A 2023 study also found that nicotine has serious implications on sleeping habits and can cause numerous sleep-related disorders such as insomnia, sleep apnea, and poor sleep quality. And because sleep is inextricably linked to your overall health and immune system, the same study found that nicotine-induced lack of sleep puts you at a greater risk for heart disease, diabetes, depression, and obesity.

On top of that, because Zyn pouches are lodged between your gum and upper lip, they’re not great for your oral health either, Dr. Kahng says. More research is still needed, but when the product is held against the oral tissues for prolonged periods of time, gum recession (when gum tissue that surrounds the teeth wears away) can occur, she explains. Depending on the placement of the pouch, it can also increase the risk of localized plaque development leading to tooth decay and cavities, she adds.

The Bottom Line

Any form of nicotine is extremely addictive, Zyn included, and once you start, it’s difficult to break the habit, Dr. Kharazi says. “While there is no long-term data available on Zyn specifically, we do have evidence of the detrimental effects of nicotine on multiple organ systems and can therefore extrapolate that long-term and frequent use of Zyn should be avoided,” she explains. Currently the marketing of Zyn is focusing on the fact that it’s tobacco-free, and while that is true, “nicotine is hardly an innocent or harmless substance,” Dr. Kharazi emphasizes.

Related Posts
Latest Fitness
The End.

The next story, coming up!