They’re both classified as modern oral nicotine products. They’re both tobacco-free. They’re both odorless and spitless. But for convenience store tobacco category managers, there are some key differences to nicotine pouches and nicotine lozenges.
Nicotine pouches hold nicotine that has been extracted from tobacco plants and crystallized into salts. The pouch measures about the same size as snus — even sold in cans like snus — and are used like snus, placed between gums and cheeks or lips. According to consumer feedback, the nicotine release lasts approximately 20 to 30 minutes.
Nicotine levels run between one milligram and eight milligrams. The addition of sweeteners and natural flavors, like spearmint and wintergreen, broaden appeal. Some brands also sell unique tastes such as cinnamon, coffee, citrus and berry.
Typically, nicotine lozenges are promoted as a tobacco-replacement alternative for individuals seeking to quit smoking or smokeless tobacco habits; however, they also can be marketed as a nicotine product that can be indulged anywhere, anytime because there’s no second-hand element like smoke or vapor. It provides a more undetectable experience.
Nicotine lozenges resemble other lozenges intended to soothe sore throats or even hard candies, just with the addition of nicotine. Sucking on it allows a controlled nicotine experience. Like other oral nicotine items, lozenges come in two strength levels and a variety of flavors.
Any of these products that were on store shelves as of Aug. 8, 2016, needed to submit a premarket tobacco application (PMTA) to the Food and Drug Administration by Sept. 9, 2020. The federal agency has approximately 12 months from PMTA acceptance to approve or deny future sales.
Almost immediately after being introduced to the U.S. market, sales of nicotine pouches took off, and continue to climb.
Lozenges, on the other hand, have been available for years and primarily are positioned as a smoking cessation aid. But their customer base could grow as more people become aware of the modern oral nicotine category. Informal market research suggests people who enjoy this category enjoy trying different products. So with a little consumer education, pouch enthusiasts also could become fans of lozenges, and c-stores can ring up more sales.