Why Do FootBallers Use Snus & Nicotine Pouches?

Why Do FootBallers Use Snus & Nicotine Pouches?


Celebrity endorsements, particularly by footballers, have boosted the appeal of nicotine pouches, with claims of improved focus and reduced anxiety. However, there is lttle evidence supporting its fitness-enhancing effects. Nicotine's stimulant properties may enhance alertness, but its impact on exercise performance remains unclear.

Nicotine pouches launched in 2019 as a tobacco free alternative to Snus. They’ve rapidly gained traction as an effective form of nicotine replacement with users valuing the discreet design that allows them to be used anywhere. Nicotine pouches are easy to use and effective, providing a steady release of nicotine that lasts for up to an hour. Additionally, they’re up to 80% cheaper than smoking making them one of the most cost effective smokeless options available. Moreover, they’re environmentally friendly, the pouches are biodegradable and the tubs can be recycled.

Recently snus & nicotine pouches have hit the headlines following their growing popularity among footballers and celebrities—those in the limelight praise pouches for their ability to be used without drawing unwanted attention. Social media influencers extolling their supposed performance enhancing abilities are fanning the flames of this trend. Subsequently, fitness enthusiasts have taken up this craze praising the benefits of using nicotine pouches pre and post workout.

Are these claims valid, does nicotine provide you with a fitness boost? Join us as we uncover why professional athletes around the world use nicotine pouches and snus, and discover the various effects nicotine has on the body during a workout, including potential improvements in focus and performance.


A photo showing footballers playing in a stadium

Professional athletes and nicotine pouches

Elite athletes around the world are turning to nicotine pouches as a safer alternative to tobacco products. Notable use among sports includes ice-hockey and baseball players in the USA who are switching from cigarettes and chewing tobacco, and British Footballers introduced to the concept of oral nicotine by their European teammates.

Watching inspiring sports icons using nicotine pouches has helped foster a positive image for the concept as sports stars are seen as renowned athletes at peak fitness, who would do little to jeopardise their health and careers. This level of influence has helped to remove the stigma associated with nicotine pouches and can have a beneficial effect on smokers looking for a safer alternative to tobacco.

Unfortunately, the media is grouping nicotine pouches together with snus and the reaction isn’t positive. It is vital to understand and communicate that nicotine pouches are tobacco-free and a far safer option than snus.

Performance-enhancing effects attributed to the use of pouches include mental readiness and a reduction in pre-match anxiety. Whilst influencers on social media tout the fitness advantages of using nicotine pouches boost exercise gains.  

Why are football players using snus and nicotine pouches?

Nicotine pouch use in English football has skyrocketed with 40% of those surveyed from Premiership clubs through to League Two report regular use. According to a study by the Loughborough University, use of nicotine pouches in England is more prevalent among footballers than it is with the general public. This trend can be traced back to the popularity of snus tobacco pouches, which found popularity in British professional football via European players signed on to play on English teams. Snus is not for sale in the UK and was only accessible to players through personal imports or by obtaining it from teammates travelling back from Sweden where it is legally sold. Nicotine pouches on the other hand are easily available in most stores and cornershops in England, they are tobacco-free and much safer than snus.

Whilst there is a trend to promote nicotine pouches as an exercise performance booster in social media, for professional footballers the motivation is more practical. Of those surveyed, 64% started because their teammates were using them. Coping with stress is also a major motivating factor, 52% believed nicotine pouches helped them relax. Interestingly, only 5% of players thought nicotine pouches or snus would improve their game.

Reasons why footballers use nicotine pouches

1. Dealing with stress - Nicotine releases dopamine, the neurotransmitter known as the ‘feel good chemical’. This can have a calming effect that can help reduce anxiety and stress levels experienced before and after a game. Football players surveyed by Loughborough University reported that nicotine pouches and Snus helped them to cope with the pressure before a game and socially unwind from the adrenaline rush after a high-pressure match.(4)

A photo of an upset football player on a pitch

2. Stimulant effect - like caffeine, nicotine is a stimulant that can increase alertness and enhance focus. This can be useful in a high stakes premier league football match where players are under pressure to be at their best at all times. Football matches demand constant vigilance. Nicotine's ability to heighten alertness can help players stay aware of their surroundings, anticipate opponents' moves, and react swiftly to changes on the field.

An image of the human brain

3. Cardiovascular - A football player's career and ability to perform goes hand in hand with their cardiovascular fitness. Regardless of how they are portrayed in the media, nicotine pouches do not carry any of the carcinogenic and respiratory risks associated with tobacco use. Pouches are a far safer alternative for footballers with a nicotine addiction who don’t wish to jeopardise their cardiovascular health.

A photo of a footballer playing in a stadium

4. Public image - Placed between the lip and gums, nicotine pouches are virtually undetectable and afford footballers the advantage of being able to get their fix discreetly without being exposed to negative scrutiny. This subtlety allows them to maintain their professional image whilst managing their nicotine cravings. Additionally, the lack of smoke or vapour means they can use the pouches without affecting those around them, further preserving their club reputation and relationship with fans.

A photo of a crowd of people taking photos at an event

How many British Footballers use nicotine pouches?

Findings published by the Professional Footballer’s Association and Loughborough University found that over 50% of male and female English football players use nicotine pouches. The majority use pouches before training and games and after a match. This widespread use suggests a significant trend within the sport, raising questions about the potential impact on performance and health. Additionally, the study highlights a growing need for awareness that may lead to regulation regarding nicotine use in professional sports.

A pie chart highlighting the use of nicotine pouches in English Football.

Scientific evidence: nicotine and exercise performance

There is very little scientific evidence to support the positive or negative effects of nicotine pouches. Most of the research comes from the US where studies found that positive effects obtained from nicotine relate to its stimulant-like qualities. Like caffeine, nicotine can increase alertness and focus whilst the dopamine release can provide a calming effect. Additionally, nicotine pouches provide a gradual release of nicotine that lasts much longer than a cigarette hit, thus prolonging the sense of clarity and calm. However, the long-term health impacts of using nicotine pouches remain largely unstudied, and there are concerns about potential addiction risks for young fans who wish to emulate their idols.

What does nicotine do to the body during exercise?

Influencers on social media claim that nicotine enhances exercise performance and can lead to a more productive workout session. Conversely, there are reports that nicotine has qualities that can be detrimental to a good workout. Multiple studies in the USA looking at the effects of nicotine on athletes have revealed interesting findings.

Potential benefits of using nicotine pouches for pre-workout energy

Alertness: nicotine was shown to significantly improve cognitive function. They tested baseball players and found that the nicotine group had an average decrease in motor reaction time of 11%.(6) A speedy reaction time may be beneficial to performance athletes, but would have very little impact whilst exercising in a closed environment like a gym.

Stress and anxiety: Studies found that nicotine can reduce anxiety and act as a mild anti-depressant, however, withdrawal can lead to an increase in anxiety and depression.(7) Nicotine may provide a calming effect that could be seen as benificial post workout, however this would only be of benefit to people already addicted to nicotine.

Improved endurance: A notable increase in blood flow and muscular tissue oxygenation was noticed, however, this didn’t alter the subjects view of when they experienced fatigue. They also stated that there was no perceived improvement in exercise intensity and aerobic performance. (1)

Overall the study concluded that the use of nicotine pouches and snus would not increase the body's capacity for exercise and mental stamina and could not be considered a performance enhancing substance.

Can nicotine pouches enhance your workout?

The biggest advantage of switching from smoking to nicotine pouches is an improvement in your cardiovascular health. You immediately eliminate inhaling thousands of carcinogenic substances which will have massive benefits for your lung function. Studies show that participants who swap smoking for nicotine pouches experience a reduction in carbon monoxide levels in the blood.(2) However, healthy non-smokers who used nicotine pouches experienced minimal benefit, with some reporting dizziness and nausea. It appears that the main benefit is derived by those who using pouches to combat cravings and maintain a normal state.

Why are nicotine pouches safer than Snus?

The greatest danger from snus is that it contains actual tobacco leaf which is a known carcinogen. This means that snus carries the same harmful constituents found in tobacco, among them tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNAs), which are one of the the most harmful elements in tobacco. These chemicals are associated with an increased risk of cancer, particularly oral and pancreatic cancers. Nicotine pouches are tobacco-free and sugar-free, using only isolated nicotine, flavourings and sweeteners. By removing tobacco completely nicotine pouches provide a carcinogen-free experience, reducing your risk of oral cancer and other health issues. They are less likely to cause gum recession, tooth discolouration, and other oral health issues commonly associated with tobacco products.

A photo showing snus pouches on tobacco leaves

Conclusion: Are nicotine pouches right for your pre-workout routine?

The rise of nicotine pouches as a safer alternative to tobacco snus has been swift since their introduction to the UK in 2019. Their discreet design, affordability and environmental benefits have made them a popular nicotine alternative. Endorsements by footballers, celebrities and social media influencers has ignited a trend with claims of benefits such as improved focus and stress reduction. This has sparked a debate over the purported performance-enhancing effects of nicotine pouches.

Among footballers, the use of nicotine pouches appears to be driven more by practical and social influences and stress management rather than a genuine belief in enhanced athletic performance. The calming effects of nicotine caused by the release of dopamine can help reduce pre-match anxiety and aid in post game relaxation.

Currently, there is little evidence supporting these claims, and whilst nicotine does have stimulant properties similar to caffeine, which can increase alertness and cognitive function, the impacts on exercise performance and overall health are unclear. Studies suggest that the benefits are more relevant to those already addicted to nicotine as pouches offer a safer alternative to traditional tobacco products. The greatest advantage nicotine pouches provide is as a harm reduction tool for smokers, who will benefit from improvements to their cardiovascular health.

For more reading, find out which football players' shirts are most in demand in 2024!

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(1,2) Loughborough University - Loughborough University and PFA publish findings from joint research study into Snus use in professional football, 28 May 2024. https://www.lboro.ac.uk/news-events/news/2024/may/snus-study-findings-published

(3) National Library of Medicine - Acute Effects of Nicotine on Physiological Responses and Sport Performance in Healthy Baseball Players, 19 January 2022.

(4) National Library of Medicine - Effect of nicotine and nicotinic receptors on anxiety and depression, 2 July 2002.

(5,6,7) National Library of Medicine - The effects of oral smokeless tobacco administration on endurance performance, 7 October 2018.


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