How Zyn Nicotine Pouches Became a Heated Political Issue

Although there is no lawsuit, Chuck Schumer has ignited an intense political battle surrounding Zyn regulation.

Eva Hagan - Author

Feb. 19 2024, Published 12:44 p.m. ET

A person holds a nicotine pouch with two fingers with a tin full of the pouches in the background.
Source: iStock

Zyn nicotine pouches have been all over the internet, and heavily criticized by doctors and legislatures alike for their addictive nature and potential health impacts. Although they were made as a tobacco-free alternative to smoking, Zyn products still contain nicotine and are very addictive.

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Medical professionals and a few politicians have spoken out about the dangerous nature of Zyn, as well as the susceptibility of teens and young adults to social media marketing and addictive products. Considering the serious health issues Zyn can inflict, is there a lawsuit against Zyn?

A plastic tin of nicotine pouches sits on a black background.
Source: iStock
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Was there a lawsuit against Zyn?

There are no lawsuits against Zyn; however, there have been major complaints against the product. Zyn is an oral nicotine pouch, which is not as strictly regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as smoking tobacco products, per Truth Initiative.

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In 2020, the California Legislature filed a complaint with the FDA claiming that Zyn's parent company, Swedish Match, was misrepresenting its products, making it seem like Zyn was an FDA-approved smoking cessation product, which it is not.

Swedish Match was comparing Zyn to products like Nicorette, a nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) gum that is approved by the FDA. This can mislead and confuse people into incorrectly thinking that Zyn is also an FDA-approved NRT, per the complaint filed by the California State Senate.

According to Vox, NRTs are required to conduct clinical trials to be approved by the FDA, which Zyn still needs to do to ensure it's safe and effective. In 2022, a study was done on 44 commercially available nicotine pouch products, and the research found that more than half of them contained cancer-causing chemicals known as Tobacco-Specific Nitrosamines (TSNAs). Therefore, many find it concerning that a popular brand like Zyn has not been approved as an NRT.

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Even though there aren't any major lawsuits against Zyn, lawmakers are fighting over whether they should be banned.

While there are no lawsuits against Zyn, the product has become a warring topic between politicians. In January 2024, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) held a press conference where he urged the FDA to place more regulations on Zyn and research the effect it could be having on younger populations.

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Per CBS News, Schumer said during the press conference: “It’s a pouch packed with problems — high levels of nicotine... I’m delivering a warning to parents because these nicotine pouches seem to lock their sights on young kids — teenagers, and even lower — and then use the social media to hook them."

According to Politico, Schumer isn't the only one talking about this. Sweden's snus, a nicotine pouch that contains tobacco, is banned in every country of the European Union (EU) apart from Sweden. Several countries in Europe, including Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands, are looking at a potential ban on nicotine pouches that do not contain tobacco — products like Zyn.

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According to NPR, his comments were met with intense conservative pushback. Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-G.A.), wrote in a tweet, "This calls for a Zynsurrection!"

Conservative political commentator Tucker Carlson is a known "zynfluencer." As a former smoker, Carlson has been using Zyn for years and calls it a "mind-enhancing" drug. According to NPR, conservative politicians' stances on Zyn could be used as a way for them to get more voters, and appeal to those who want to keep using the products.

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