In many ways, nicotine pouches can be regarded as the modern evolution of smoking products, which has a history that can be traced to the 16th century.

We’ll take you through their long journey from humble origins to what they are today.

The Origins of Nicotine

A crop of tobacco leaves

In many ways, ground tobacco, also known as snus, or snuff, can be considered the ancestor of nicotine pouches, the history of which spans centuries.

The first to have used ground tobacco were the indigenous people of Brazil, achieved by grinding tobacco leaves with a rosewood mortar and pestle, which would infuse the tobacco with a woody aroma. The snus was then stored in airtight containers, such as elaborately designed tubes or bottles made from bone to preserve the flavour.

On Christopher Columbus’ second voyage to the so-called ‘New World’, a crew member observed how native people of the Lesser Antilles used snuff. The colonialists then introduced snuff to Europe in the late 1400s, blooming into a thriving industry by the early 16th century.

The etymological roots of ‘nicotine’ are derived from tobacco plants, otherwise known as nicotiana tabacum, which were named after French diplomat Jean Nicot. Nicot discovered the plant in Portugal and brought it to the royal court of France in 1561 to swift and widespread acclaim for its supposed medicinal properties.

Until the 19th century, snus was seen as an exclusive, royal and luxurious commodity, although its popularity meant it would inevitably trickle into commercial use for all over the coming centuries.

Traditionally, this herb was sniffed, or ‘snuffed’, to obtain a nicotine hit. However, despite restrictions becoming increasingly common, snuff production flourished and spawned many tobacco varieties and different styles of consumption.

For instance, America, now known as the forefather of dipping tobacco, developed their own style of snuff consumption as a way of rejecting the formality of European and British practices. This involved dipping the tip of a twig into snuff and placing it inside the cheek.

Oral use through chewing or dipping became more frequent due to its convenience for those roaming dangerous frontier trails, which is why the spittoon has become a memorable icon of the American West.

Traditional spittoon on a porch

The Decline of Tobacco

Not only did the elite status of tobacco begin to decline, but so did its standing as a medicinal herb. For example, botanist John Hill worked with a doctor to discover the link between nasal cancer and snuff in the Victorian era.

A strong anti-smoking sentiment emerged in 1920s Germany after scientists identified a considerable statistical correlation between lung cancer and smoking. Evidence continued to mount throughout the decades until health authorities could no longer ignore the overwhelmingly credible link between tobacco and cancer.

In 1998, the landmark Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement ensured that the four largest tobacco companies in the US would limit or cease entirely harmful and misleading marketing practices. In addition, they would have to make annual payments to the states in perpetuity to compensate for smoking-related medical costs.

Cigarettes spelling out cancer

From Tobacco to Nicotine Pouches

Swedish snus was first pre-portioned into pouches in the 1970s, now known as tobacco pouches or Original Portion. In this way, tobacco pouches can be considered a precursor to nicotine pouches as the concept of a discreet, smokeless nicotine hit is ostensibly the same.

Nevertheless, nicotine pouches are different from tobacco pouches in one important way. German chemists discovered a way to extract nicotine from tobacco in 1828, laying the foundation for the revolutionary transformation of tobacco pouches into what we now know as nicotine pouches.

Nevertheless, nicotine pouches are different from tobacco pouches in one important way. German chemists discovered a way to extract nicotine from tobacco in 1828, laying the foundation for the revolutionary transformation of tobacco pouches into what we now know as nicotine pouches.

4NX tropical ice and fruits

Armed with modern technology and a newfound understanding of smoking risks, the creation of nicotine pouches wasn’t so much a question of if but rather of when.

It took until 2003 for their first official creation, and nicotine pouches have only grown in popularity in the past twenty years as a smoke-free, stain-free and spit-free way to experience a nicotine hit without the inherent risks of tobacco.

For a tobacco-free smoking alternative, why not try our 4NX nicotine pouches? They come in a range of flavours and nicotine strengths, ideal for people who are looking to quit for good. Just pop a pouch under the top lip and simply wait for the tingle to set in and sate your cravings.

4NX nicotine pouches