(updated 30 Jun 16) My Monday Swedish Snus Ambassador Diplomatic Pouch contained a box from SMNA. Inside were two attractive ZYN nt display boxes as pictured here. One contained the six ZYN nt 3mg nicotine products; the other the six ZYN nt 6 mg nicotine products.
As pictured in the left display box, I also received a large but stylish USB drive with "ZYN" carved into it.
When I plugged the drive into my PC, it began glowing red which was a bit unsettling. Fortunately, my anti-malware software quickly confirmed I had not been phished by anti-all-tobacco extremists pretending to be Swedish Match. On the flash drive was everything I could want to know about ZYN nt...almost.
What is ZYN nt?
ZYN nt (the nt stands for "no tobacco") are a pouch product similar to Swedish snus in that the pouch goes under your upper lip, is very discreet, it's spitless, and contains nicotine.
Swedish Match launched ZYN nt in Colorado and Montana back in 2014. Sales were strong enough to now expand distribution to the entire United States west of Texas.
Two strengths are available; 3mg which is said to be equivalent to a regular Swedish Match snus portion and 6mg which is designed as a strong snus equivalent.
In appearance, the ZNT pouches look like a dry white portion snus. ZYN nt comes currently comes in six flavors, Coffee, Cinnamon, Cool Mint, Spearmint, Wintergreen, and Peppermint.
I suppose Swedish Match could have created a tobacco flavored version except it probably would have confused the whole "tobacco-free" message. If you want tobacco flavored reduced harm oral pouch products with nicotine over the counter in the US, just buy General Snus.
ZYN's non-woven pouches contain flavoring, non-tobacco filler, nicotine salts, and pH balancers (to enhance the nicotine experience). The nicotine used is derived from tobacco leaves yet ZYN is tobacco free. How is that possible?
The nicotine is essentially soaked out of the tobacco leaves in high pH water, then filtered to remove any other tobacco elements leaving pure nicotine salts. Tobacco leaves may have been killed to make ZYN's nicotine, but there are no tobacco leaves in ZYN.
Each can contains 15 portions weighing roughly 0.4mg each. The pouch weight may be reminiscent of mini portion snus but the pouches themselves are larger and don't feel like mini portions under the lip. The filler quickly flattens out and molds itself to the gum making ZYN so discreet you can easily forget you have a pouch in, save for the flavor.
I hesitate to quantify the nicotine experience with ZYN. Matt Campbell from SnusTV.com said he had to use two ZYN portions at once to really feel the nicotine.
My initial experience was different and possibly unique, especially with the 6mg nicotine products. I felt the nicotine fairly quickly to the point of an uncomfortable tightness in my chest. After receiving no similiar complaints from others, I started my ZYNnt testing over again today with very different results.
As before, I've been alternating ZYN with various strengths and types of Swedish snus. I felt no discomfort this time. The 3mg portions held off nic cravings but I found myself cycling through pouches quicker than the 40 minutes to an hour intended use time.
The 6mg pouches were better but I found snus of similar strength more satisfying overall. While the taste of ZYNnt is not bad at all, the sweetness and lack of tobacco flavor became too cloying for my liking eventually.
Moving on, ZYN nt cans are the same size as most of today's Swedish Match portion snuses. I could not find a catch lid but can lids are child-resistant. You have to line up a top and bottom arrow in order for the cans to open.
I wish I'd read that part of the documentation first as I almost broke a nail trying to get the lid off the first can of ZYN I tried.
The top lid is split between the product name/description and the insanely long fine-print disclaimer “This product contains nicotine, a substance known to the State of California to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm. Nicotine is addictive. Physical effects include increased heart rate and raised blood pressure. Intended for use by adult tobacco users and not minors, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, or persons with or at risk of heart disease, high blood pressure or diabetes. Keep out of reach of children. Use as directed.”
Wow, and I thought the FDA smokeless tobacco warnings were extreme! Actually three of the four FDA warnings are extremely inaccurate but at least they are succinct. I suspect that ZYN being now sold in the People's Republic of California has a lot to do with the voluminous ZYN health disclaimer.
The flavorings themselves are tasty and on the sweet side. I wish Swedish Match would apply the coffee and cinnamon recipes to traditional snus. Mixed with the tobacco flavor, they would probably be quite good.
You will not get any tobacco flavor at all out of ZYN nt. The flavor is more in line with nicotine gum except it's better and you don't have to chew it.
Why would Swedish Match market a tobacco-free nicotine product?
Before I even opened the package, my question was why? Why would the largest Swedish snus manufacturer with a tobacco product history going back centuries make a non-tobacco product which could compete with snus?
In reading through the ZYN documentation on the USB drive, the positives for ZYN largely matched the positives of Swedish snus.
Like snus, ZYN is spitless, discreet, convenient, and unlike other tobacco products except snus, easy to use in tobacco-free zones; especially airplanes (not that I am condoning that behavior....). It took a little digging to ferret out other positives not shared with snus.
ZYN nt is not temperature sensitive; no need to refrigerate or even store at a cool, constant temperature. Nicotine salts are also more stable than pharmaceutical or other types of liquid nicotine and not vulnerable to oxidation. Unopened, each can will remain fresh for one year. Once opened, Swedish Match recommends you finish the can within 30 days.
Since ZYN is officially tobacco free, unless someone comes up with a "No Nicotine" sign, you are free to use it anywhere and everywhere.
Maybe that's why Swedish Match created ZYN in the first place. Unlike Sweden, snus was not a part of our cultural history. "Smokeless tobacco" has negative connotations in large parts of the US. Most Americans still immediately think of chewing tobacco or dip with the spitting and mess; not snus.
SMNA and American snus bloggers have been fighting this perception since 2007 and it's still an ongoing informational challenge.
With the current torrent of anti-all-tobacco hysteria over vapor and ecigs, offering a nicotine product without tobacco may seem like an easier sell to American nicotine addicts seeking a discreet way to support their addiction.
Based on the two state ZYN trial being a big enough success to warrant expanding the market to half the country, it certainly makes sense to Swedish Match. Sales at Smoker Friendly stores alone would make ZYN worth pursuing, according to a SnusCIA source in Colorado.
Will I use ZYN nt personally?
This is the most important question of all, especially to me.
I'm a snuser. I've been a Swedish snus user since 2007 when it finally allowed me to quit my life-long cigarette habit.
I love Swedish snus and the taste of tobacco; either alone or with flavoring agents added. I love how it satisfies my nicotine addiction with so little risk.
ZYN is flavored nicotine in a food-quality base containing absolutely no tobacco or tobacco flavor.
I may pop a ZYN-nt occasionally before bed as I wind down. I don't see myself mixing ZYN into my daily rotation of snuses or switching completely to ZYN. Even if the nicotine experience was stronger, this is a product and a product category I really have no interest in.
That doesn't mean ZYN is a bad alternative to snus for smokers looking to quit or cut back on cigarettes. ZYNnt may be a great alternative for vape fans in places where vaping is not allowed; especially if they prefer fruit or mint flavored nic juice.
If ZYN nt can help anyone struggling with nicotine addiction by providing a near-harmless nicotine alternative (yes, I read the warning label on the can), then I'm all for it.
ZYN or any other product from any manufacturer in that category, is just not for me. I'm a Swedish Snus lover. Swedish snus saved my life. Snus is my tobacco and nicotine source of choice. It always will be.
At an Undisclosed Location
Reporting for SnusCENTRAL.org