Mighty Blog

What are nicotine pouches and why are they harmful to kids? 

It seems there is always a new nicotine product on the market that is marketed toward kids and teens. These products oftentimes go undetected by parents, including nicotine pouches, which are an emerging product that is becoming increasingly common with teens. 

What are nicotine pouches? 

Nicotine pouches are small pockets filled with nicotine, typically flavored, and go in your mouth and sit in between your lip and your gums. While this idea has been around for years and years, nicotine pouches are much smaller, meaning you wouldn’t necessarily notice them in someone’s mouth if they have one in. 

Nicotine is an addictive drug found in tobacco products like cigarettes, chewing tobacco, snus, e-cigarettes, cigars and more. While these pouches may not contain tobacco, they do contain the addictive component of nicotine. 

Popular companies that sell nicotine pouches are Zyn, On! and Velo. 

Nicotine pouches

Why are kids using them? 

Once someone tries a nicotine pouch, it can be hard to stop. Plus, they are common among kids and teens, so the availability of them is easy. According to Tobacco Free Kids, “Nicotine pouch use has significantly increased since 2016, and its use is most common among young adults aged 18-24.” 

Nicotine companies market their products toward kids and teens by offering a variety of flavors that may be attractive to kids and teens like black cherry, apple mint, berry, coffee, cinnamon, lemon spritz and more. 

These pouches often go undetected by adults, so kids can use them at home or in school without anyone noticing. Plus, this type of messaging is included in the company’s ads. For example, an advertisement from Velo in 2023 said, “No smoke. No smoke smell. No hassle.” 

Why are nicotine pouches bad? 

Nicotine companies tend to market their products as “clean” because they do not include tobacco.  

But nicotine isn’t harmless.  

According to the American Lung Association, “Nicotine negatively impacts brain development and changes brain chemistry.” Plus, when kids and teens use nicotine before their brains are fully developed (which isn’t complete until the mid-to-late 20s), it can have cognitive and behavioral problems with their memory, attention and learning, according to the American Lung Association. 

Nicotine increases stress, anxiety and depression 

While sometimes kids can turn to nicotine products to help reduce their stress, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Nicotine addiction can be a source of stress.” 

But, nicotine can make feelings of stress even worse. There is evidence that nicotine actually increases anxiety and depressive symptoms. 

How can parents address nicotine use? 

There are different ways to address nicotine use in kids and teens. 

Talk to your kids and teens about nicotine 

The right time to talk to your kids and teens about nicotine is when they’re young. But, no matter what, it’s always important at any age to have this discussion. 

Have an open and honest conversation about the dangers of nicotine use and how it can affect them. Also, if they express the desire to quit, work with them on a quitting plan. Do this by keeping them busy and serving as a support team for your child. A pediatrician may have more guidance on how to tackle this subject with your child. 

Prevent kids and teens from nicotine use 

  • Limit their exposure to nicotine, cigarettes, e-cigarettes, etc. this increases the odds that they’ll never start. 
  • Quit your usage. While this isn’t easy, kids learn from example and will respond best if your actions line up with your advice. 

Adolescent Health Clinic at Children’s Minnesota 

If your child or teen is struggling with nicotine addiction and you want expert help, our Adolescent Health Clinic is here for you. In this clinic, we are partners in your teen’s care: We know that parental involvement is very important, and we encourage the involvement of your teen in their care, too. 

The Adolescent Health Clinic is a multidisciplinary team of medical and mental health professionals. They collaborate to meet the unique medical and psychosocial needs of teenage patients and their families to promote their healthy development. The care model integrates psychosocial care into all aspects of health care delivery. Clinical services include primary medical care, acute and chronic care, reproductive care, and mental health assessment and therapy. 

Contact the Adolescent Health Clinic

We’re here for you by phone 24/7 when you have questions about your child’s health. You can call during clinic hours to schedule an appointment or call anytime to talk with one of our triage nurses who are specially trained to answer your questions.  

Adolescent Health Clinic 
Children’s Minnesota Specialty Center, 3rd floor 
2530 Chicago Avenue South 
Minneapolis, MN 55404 

Phone: 612-813-6107 
Fax: 612-813-6190 

Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. 
Virtual care (telehealth) appointments are available 

Additional resources

If you want to help your child or teen to stop using nicotine products, there are many resources out there for you and them. Get tips from the following websites:   

Alexandra Rothstein