When I turned 28 I had a bit of a realization - after starting smoking at 14 - hitting 28 meant I’d been smoking for 50% of my life. Now obviously I know smoke is bad (boring!) - but half my life spent inhaling combustible material on purpose probably wasn’t a great idea… it was then that I decided to attempt to quit.

Now I won’t pretend it’s worked just yet - but as with many other smokers - I began exploring alternative options to minimise the risk to my health. The first obvious choice was to switch to a ‘vape’ or ‘e-cigarette’.

Quick shot of my table while we setup the photoshoot for our website Vapeblog. In the center, you can admire my fresh new electro box from dotmod along with a bunch of eliquids.
Photo by Antonin FELS / Unsplash

This worked for a fair while - it was a novelty - you get lots of tasty flavours and some of that same ‘hand to mouth’ experience you become so used too as a smoker. However - given the nanny state laws in the UK - you still have to pop out into the cold for a ‘smoke’ and it was never quite the same as a good old fashioned cigarette - but still carried many of the downsides.

Now I’m in no doubt vaping is ‘less bad’ for you than smoking - however the more research I read - combined with a bit of common sense - I realised inhaling the vapour of a liquid with some of the same dubious substances as cigarettes still probably isn’t a great idea.

For example I saw a recent report including mass spectrometry results from a sample of vape juice than contains Benzene (aka rocket fuel) that’s also present in cigarette smoke - and that’s just for starters. As I understand it there isn’t a huge amount of legislation around the contents of vaping liquids - and some potentially harmful ingredients are in such relatively small quantities manufactures aren’t obliged to list them on the packaging.

So bottom line - vaping isn’t as bad for you as smoking - but it still carries risk - and much of that risk is currently unknown due to the infancy of the marketplace and the products sold.

My lungs are kinda precious to me (breathing is useful!) and I’m keen to maintain good cardiovascular fitness. Smoking or vaping isn’t going to help me out in that arena.

Photo by Robina Weermeijer / Unsplash

So I started to look for alternative way to find that nicotine hit I enjoy without the downsides associated with smoking or vaping - and that’s when I discovered ‘nicotine pouches’…

Nicotine pouches are white pre-portioned pouches containing nicotine but no tobacco, and are described as either similar to or a tobacco-free version of snus. No combustion is involved. The user puts a pouch between the upper lip and gum, and leaves it there while the nicotine and taste is being released.

Source - Wikipedia

Now there isn't a great deal of research specific to this product (the Wiki article highlights this) - and I'm not sure how well other nicotine related studies relate - but it's my lungs I'm worried about here - not specifically the negative effects of nicotine itself.

Similar to ‘snus’ (a traditional Swedish product) nicotine pouches contain no actual tobacco and are actually used in Norway as a nicotine replacement therapy - similar to nicotine patches here in the UK. Essentially you tuck a small white pouch under your lip and enjoy. No more fag breaks in the cold!

The pouches come in a 'tub' with a storage area in the lid for used product.

Lucky for me - many of the suppliers / UK distributors are on a marketing push - and I’ve had the opportunity to get products from 3 different brands free of charge.

Below is a brief summary of the products I’ve tried with my opinion on the product, pricing and some other details (nicotine content is per pouch) -

ZoneX

RRP - £6.50 per pack (24 pouches)

Avalible in 2 strengths (6mg or 10mg per pouch) the ZoneX pouches have a purely minty taste to them. Unlike the other two products I've tried (we'll get to them) - ZoneX say these pouches are good for about 20 minutes. They statisfy your nicotine cravings - don't feel unfortable in the mouth and have a nice 'fresh' taste as the label would imply. There is a somewhat unpleasant after taste for a while - and personally I'd prefer something I can use for longer.

ZoneX Fresh Mint (10mg nicotine)

Nordic Spirit

RRP - £6.50 (20 pouches)

These were the first pouches I tried and actually the free sample was my third pack after buying two in a local shop. I'm a big Earl Grey fan - so the bergamot taste is a real treat for me. Great initial tingling sensation for about 15 mins and they advice the pouch can be kept under your lip for around an hour for the full effect. They offer two flavours and strengths (6mg and 9mg) - but I'll be sticking with the bergamot and wildberry myself as it suits my tasts perfectly. Great product and also the only one I've seen in shops.

Nordic Spirit Bergomot Wildberry (6mg nicotine)

LYFT

RRP - £7.99 (24 pouches)

So the sole downside to the LYFT pouches is the price - that few extra quid will make me think twice about a follow up purchase - but the taste is the best of the bunch. Fresh and minty with notes of berry coming across nicely. They offer two flavours - the 'Berry Frost' and 'Polar Mint' in strengths of 4mg or 6mg of nicotine per pouch and I've found I can enjoy these for a good hour and still feel the effects.

LYFT Berry Frost (6mg nicotine)

All of the above I got free samples of via their website - so if you're interested click the brand name to be taken to the relevant website and get your sample in the post. All of mine arrived next day delivery with no hassle.

Next on my list to try and some products shipped directly from Sweden (all the above came from UK distributors) and they have a higher nicotine content. www.haypp.com have a UK store where they ship direct so delivery will be a little longer - but you can get 5 packs for under a tenner.  

All in all I think for someone like myself stuck in an office all day - and concerned about the health of my lungs - these products could make a real difference. Today was the first day in a long time I've not smoked or vaped - I've been enjoying the LYFT Berry Frost pouches and haven't felt the need for a smoke / vape all day. I'm not going to pretend I've kicked the tobacco habit - but it's a step in the right direction.

If you're looking to get away from the clutches of tobacco - but still enjoy your nicotine hit - I'd strongly recommend taking advantage of the free samples on offer right now. Whether it's a product that will get you off nicotine completely - the jury is still out - but it's gotta be better than inhaling god knows what right?

Update - 22/02 - Nordic Spirit leading the race for favourite.
Nordic Spirit 9mg nicotine 'Bergamot & Wilderberry' flavor.

So after a few days of using nothing but the LYFY pouches - I've found myself going back to the Nordic Spirit brand. I ordered a 9mg nicotine per pouch can and this has got to be my favorite so far. The mint of the other brands is refreshing - but can get a bit tiresome throughout the day. The Nordic Spirit 'Bergamot and Wildberry' pouches have a less overwhelming taste - and are enjoyed for long periods of time.

Nordic Spirit are still offering free sample packs - just place an order via their website at - https://nordicspirit.co.uk - or you may find it in your local newsagent.

Next up I've ordered a couple of 'mixpacks' from www.haypp.com that I'm waiting to arrive to try something a little stronger - and direct from Sweden as opposed to a UK distributor.

'Mixpacks' from haypp.com