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Why do British footballers use Nicotine Pouches (aka SNUS)?

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Nicotine pouches, also known as SNUS*, are small sachets of nicotine that are placed under the upper lip and deliver a quick and discreet hit of the stimulant. They are free of tobacco, smoke and odour, making them appealing to many people who want to avoid the health risks and social stigma of smoking. But why are they so popular among British footballers?


Why do footballers use Nic Pouches?

According to some reports, nicotine pouches are widely used by footballers in the Premier League and other leagues across Europe. Some of the reasons behind this trend include the fact they're a healthier alternative to smoking, which is admittedly a low bar to set, but also the following less obvious reasons you may not already know:

Arguably Performance Enhancing

Some believe nicotine pouches offer performance-enhancing effects, such as increased alertness, improved reaction time, and reduced stress. Nicotine acts as a stimulant on the central nervous system, potentially boosting mental and physical performance for athletes. However, it is crucial to note that scientific evidence regarding the performance benefits of nicotine in sports remains limited, and it’s one thing footballers believing this to be true and it being fact.


Nicotine pouches are convenient and discreet to use, especially in public places, which is of paramount importance for professional athletes. They do not produce any smoke, smell or ash - you can easily throw these away after use. They also do not stain the teeth or fingers like cigarettes can.

Currently Fashionable

Some believe nicotine pouches are influenced by football culture. The first known use of nic pouches by a footballer was back in 2018 when England striker Jamie Vardy was spotted with a tin of “Thunder” SNUS. Since then, many footballers have followed, creating a sense of social acceptance and normality. Additionally, the intense and high-pressure nature of the football environment may contribute to players seeking coping mechanisms or habits that provide temporary relief or comfort.

Nicotine Pouch brands available

There are many brands of nicotine pouches available in the UK, each with a vast array of flavours and nicotine strengths. Some popular brands include Velo, Zyn, Nordic Spirit, and TACJA by Elf Bar. These brands offer products that range from 6mg to 20mg of nicotine per pouch, catering to different preferences and needs. However, nicotine pouches are not without controversy. Some health experts and anti-smoking groups have raised concerns about the addictive nature of nicotine pouches.

Concerns over the use of Nic Pouches

Even some ex-footballers have entered the anti-nicotine pouch debate, with former England goalkeeper David James claiming SNUS to be ‘detrimental’ to players’ performance. This is the same David James who used SNUS to help him quit smoking during his playing days, so one might argue this is a surprisingly ungrateful point of view.

Other high-profile football figures have also expressed their concern over the use of nicotine pouches by footballers. For instance, England manager Gareth Southgate has confirmed that he is aware of many footballers using nicotine pouches, but he did not think they were good for them in the long term. He said: “I am not really across all the details of the pitfalls or why people would want to do it. It is a form of tobacco, so it is not banned. But I would be surprised if those sorts of things were particularly good for you in the long term".

Who else is using Nic Pouches?

Nicotine pouches are a relatively new phenomenon in the UK, and they have gained enough traction among British footballers to warrant commentary from managers and former players. This habit has even spilt over into the general celebrity circuit with the likes of former Made in Chelsea star Alex Mytton, DJ GW Harrison, MC and rapper Bru-C, and racing driver Archie Hamilton recently being spotted using nic pouches. As a general rule with any nicotine product, if it’s a substitute for the most deadly human consumption product of all, cigarettes, any reduced-risk nicotine product is a positive move for your health.

*Although the tabloids will flit between the two words, SNUS and nicotine pouches are different products. Snus is a moist, smokeless tobacco product made of ground tobacco leaves mixed with salt, water, and other additives. Nicotine pouches are a type of smokeless tobacco alternative that contain nicotine but no actual tobacco. They are small, discreet, and come in various flavours and strengths.

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