Our Thoughts


Posted 18/04/2024 12:03pm

Tobacco-free oral nicotine pouches are one of the next generation products (NGP) Imperial believes have the potential to help make a meaningful contribution to tobacco harm reduction (THR).

Free from tobacco leaf, tobacco combustion and the generation of high levels of harmful chemicals, high quality nicotine pouches offer adult smokers who are unwilling or uninterested to stop using cigarettes a compelling, potentially harm reduced alternative.

While Imperial scientists have already generated high quality data for our tobacco-free nicotine pouch product zoneX across our multi-stage scientific assessment framework, we felt it was important to complement this research by focusing on the broader category science to-date.

We therefore undertook a detailed scoping review of the available academic literature, recently published in Cureus and listed on PubMed. Among the encouraging findings, the research suggested:

  • The use of tobacco-free nicotine pouches may result in lower exposure to toxicantsthan other tobacco or nicotine-containing products (both combustible and non‑combustible).​
  • Biomarkers of exposure studies indicate favourable changes in indicators of disease risk, and significant reductions in inflammatory response among individuals switching from both combustible and non‑combustible tobacco products to tobacco-free.
  • Clinical evidence demonstrates the efficient absorption of nicotine from the oral mucosa into the blood circulation through nicotine pouches, with no significant adverse effects reported​.
  • Evidence from human behavioural research suggests that nicotine pouches can support either transitioning away from smoking or reducing cigarette consumption. Furthermore, their use appears largely constrained to current users of traditional tobacco products, with limited youth uptake.

Senior Medical & Scientific Affairs Officer, Erika Grandolfo, who oversaw the review, commented: “So far, the sum of the available broader category science around OND – over 100 academic papers up to 31 May 2023 – is overwhelmingly positive from a tobacco harm reduction perspective.”

Thomas Nahde, Head of Harm Reduction & Engagement, concluded: “While further research – including longer-term clinical and behavioural studies – is warranted, high quality nicotine pouches appear likely to be substantially less harmful than continued cigarette smoking.

“Furthermore, the review also suggested there’s little evidence nicotine pouches like zoneX might serve as a “gateway” to regular nicotine use amongst nicotine naïve populations, confirming their potential to help make a positive contribution to public health through tobacco harm reduction.”

Read more about our thoughts about tobacco-free nicotine pouches and their potentially positive contribution to tobacco harm reduction here.

Follow us on LinkedIn and read more about our intentions to help create potentially healthier futures for our consumers on our corporate website. You are free to share this content with credit to Imperial Brands under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-ND 4.0) license.

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