The prevalence rate of smoking has seen a steady decline in the US since 1965 and has dropped from a whopping 42.6% to 13.7% in 2018. These figures are the result of anti-smoking campaigns, smoking bans, and the up-rise of modern smokeless alternatives. But how might the on-going pandemic affect these figures? Will it?

Initially, the nation-wide isolation regime that has kept people indoors for a long period paused the steady decrease of smokers in the US due to a lack of outdoor media exposure to smoke-free options, The Wall Street Journal reports, and rather lowered the sales of e-cigarettes and other smokeless alternatives such as nicotine pouches. But more recent reports on how smoking elevates the risk of contracting secondary complications of Covid-19 has once again fueled the smoke-free wheel and resulted in many Americans looking for other, less harmful options. Along with the usual smoke free alternatives we have seen in the past, such as vapes, the American desire for more inconspicuous substitutes has sparked the popularity of a traditional Swedish product and its modern sibling – namely, snus and nicotine pouches.

The 4 most popular Cigarette substitutes in the US

Swedish snus and nicotine pouches are certainly on the rise in the US; much thanks to their inconspicuous usage, but there are nevertheless many popular forms of smoke free alternatives. Below are the four most common types on the American market:

1. The E-Cigarette

Vapes, e-vaporizers or e-cigarettes all refer to the same type of tobacco free product that has been shining brightly on the market for years and were up until February of 2020 offered in a vast range of flavors. These flavors were then limited to menthol and tobacco flavor to appeal more to adults, The Wall Street Journal reports .

E-cigarettes have been used primarily by people trying to quit smoking or cut down on their tobacco usage and are used similarly to cigarettes. This has made them difficult to bring everywhere as they create a cloud of smoke that will disturb others on trains, planes or restaurants. Also, recent pertaining to Covid-19 complications and inhalation, have also displayed a clear risk for Vape users in developing secondary symptoms. This has created a recent drop in sales of e-cigarettes, and many ex-smokers still look for less harmful options to help quash their cigarette crave – a quest that is certainly difficult and yet so important.

2. Swedish snus

Snus has been part of Swedish culture for hundreds of years and is reportedly the reason for Sweden’s relatively low number of smokers. It is often described by its American fans as being discreet, easy to use, and well-made. Its high quality is not seldom revealed in its quick nicotine and flavor release, both of which can be enjoyed without worrying about disturbing others. In 2019 the FDA recognized 8 products from Sweden’s leading producer, Swedish Match, as being modified risk products.

In short, this means that when completely switching over from cigarettes to one of these eight Swedish snus products users are exposed to significantly fewer health risks compared to smoking. As a result, Swedish Match is authorized to market these as such!

Although it is quite possible to find these at local gas stations or even at local vape shops the assortment is usually quite poor, prices are high and the product might even be dry or outdated. As the on-going pandemic fuels the shift to e-commerce, many online snus stores see an increase in their Swedish Snus sales and can offer a greater variety of flavors, brands and nicotine strengths than your local gas station.

3. Chew bags

If you have heard of Swedish snus, then you will probably be familiar with Chew bags as these offer a similar tobacco experience. The tobacco that resides within each soft pouch is cut, unlike traditional Swedish snus that is ground, and will therefore require some chewing in order to release flavor and nicotine. These appeal to American fans who want control over the release rate and offer similar discreet usage, flavor variation and quality as Swedish snus. The assortment isn’t quite as diverse, although many manufacturers are certainly working on that. These bags can be distributed within the EU as well as across the pond, unlike Swedish snus which falls under the list of oral tobacco products currently banned in the EU. Chew bags are slightly less discreet than snus as these tend to produce slightly more brown dripping.

4. Nicotine pouches

The nicotine pouch is the modern and tobacco free sibling of Swedish Snus. In fact, most of the nicotine pouch brands are produced by established manufacturers of snus such as the snus giant Swedish Match, but are produced for a slightly different fan-base than traditional snus. A nicotine pouch user wants a cleaner way of enjoying nicotine, one that is tobacco and drip free all while being practically invisible to on-lookers but still incredible nicotine potent. These attributes are becoming enormously popular in the US and many nicotine pouch brands are often used by Americans solely for the purpose of quitting cigarettes. This has caused the FDA to review On! Nicotine Pouches by Altria as possible modified risk-products, like some of the snus from Swedish Match.

But the question remains - is swapping out one dangerous product for a slightly less dangerous product really what the world should hope for? When it comes to smoking during times like the Corona pandemic of 2020, then perhaps yes.

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