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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Differences in Young Adults’ Perceptions of and Willingness to Use Nicotine Pouches by Tobacco Use Status


Oral nicotine pouches may appeal to young adult current nicotine/tobacco users interested in alternative forms of nicotine that lack pulmonary exposure, but may also appeal to young adult non-users of nicotine/tobacco products. We used data from a 2020 remote digital survey of an ongoing cohort study of young adults from Southern California (aged 19-23) to examine differences in pouch perceptions and use willingness across nicotine/tobacco use statuses. Participants who had never used nicotine pouches (N = 1167) viewed text/imagery from mass-marketed pouch packaging and advertising, then completed measures of willingness to use nicotine pouches, pouch harm perceptions, and hypothetical choice of cigarettes or e-cigarettes over pouches. Willingness to use pouches was significantly higher among non-combustible only (33.8%), combustible only (29.3%), and dual (43.9%) users than non-users (14.7%). Overall, 49.1% of participants were uncertain whether pouches were less harmful than cigarettes and 52.4% were uncertain whether pouches were less harmful than e-cigarettes. Relative harm perceptions did not significantly differ by tobacco use status. Those using non-combustible products (either alone or as part of dual use with combustible tobacco) had greater odds than non-users of reporting that they would use e-cigarettes over nicotine pouches. By contrast, all tobacco product user groups reported greater odds than non-users that they would use cigarettes over pouches. In sum, a sizable minority of young adults might be willing to try using nicotine pouches, but most are uncertain about the relative harm of pouches.

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