Why now is better than ever to try alternatives to smoking

Why now is better than ever to try alternatives to smoking
Photo credit: Getty Images

This article is created for NZ Smokefree Tomorrow Limited

As New Zealand endures the COVID-19 alert level 4 lockdown, Kiwi smokers are being encouraged to end the extra stress tobacco addiction brings them at an already stressful time.

Going out and getting smokes is tougher than ever and coronavirus hits smokers harder than non-smokers, due in part to their lungs having many more entry points for the virus to exploit.

It's a great, great time to quit tobacco products.

There's also a new product in the market that reportedly helps people quit tobacco with a success rate much greater than vaping.

Nicotine pouches are small, teabag-like pouches that are placed under the upper lip for 15 - 30 minutes for what's apparently "a great nicotine hit". They're completely tobacco-free and odour-free, and don't require users to spit.

And right now it's free to give them a go.

Miles Illemann is the CEO of NZ Smokefree Tomorrow Limited, the sole distributor of nicotine pouches in New Zealand.

He says the company's mission is helping New Zealand achieve smokefree status by 2025 and nicotine pouches will be a huge help.

"They just have such a high, proven effective rate. What we're seeing in European countries is nicotine pouches have a success rate of 60 - 75 percent in getting people to quit smoking," says Illemann.

"Vaping has a success rate of around 18 percent and that's with the help of nicotine patches. That's a massive difference in effectiveness.

“Sweden has a 5 percent smoking rate and Norway has an under 5 percent smoking rate for people under the age of 34. Five percent smoking prevalence classifies a country as smokefree. They're the only ones to do that and it's because of these products."

Nicotine pouches shouldn't be confused with snus, the Swedish pouches that do contain tobacco, which are currently illegal in New Zealand.

Illemann says it's not only smokers that are using nicotine pouches to quit. Vapers use them to quit vaping, too.

He says the reason nicotine pouches are more effective than other methods of quitting smoking comes down to plain and simple numbers.

"Our product doesn't give a smoker the habitual motions of inhaling or putting something up to their mouth frequently like vaping does. But 90 percent of quitting is about nicotine drug addiction while only 10 percent of it is about the habit, even though smokers prioritise the habitual importance over the chemical reaction that takes place in the brain" says Illemann.

"This product is designed for any smoker or vaper who is looking to get rid of their unsafe way of delivering nicotine."

Why now is better than ever to try alternatives to smoking
Photo credit: NZ Smokefree Tomorrow Limited

And it's not just Europeans taking up nicotine pouches.

According to Illemann there are an estimated 150,000 to 200,000 people vaping in New Zealand.  He says of that amount 50 percent continue to use cigarettes, and he sees vaping as ineffective as an alternative to smoking. "This means our country’s current trajectory is to be smokefree by 2041, not 2025 as hoped for," Illemann says.  

Illemann says in the US, the nicotine pouch category has been stated by industry professionals as the fastest growing category in the nicotine industry - faster even than vaping.

Kiwis have been encouraged to maintain their health during the pandemic lockdown by keeping up exercise regimes and limiting alcohol intake. NZ Smokefree Tomorrow Limited says it's trying help by letting people try nicotine pouches for free on their website.

"We're offering a free can of Zyn to new users, because we know it works and we know if people give it a try there's a high likelihood of them becoming a customer and that means they'll get off the cigarettes," says Illemann.

If nicotine pouches are as effective in New Zealand as they are in Scandinavia and as popular as they're becoming in the US, we'll be hearing a lot more about them soon.

This article is created for NZ Smokefree Tomorrow Limited

*Nicotine is a highly addictive substance.