For smokers not intending to quit, switching to a reduced-risk nicotine product should be healthier than continuing smoking. We estimate the health impact, over the period 2000-2050, had the nicotine pouch ZYN hypothetically been introduced into the US in 2000. ZYN’s toxicant profile and method of use is like that for Swedish snus, a product with known health effects much less than smoking.
Our modelling approach is similar to others developed for estimating potential effects of new tobacco products. It starts with a simulated cohort of 100,000 individuals in the year 2000 subdivided by age, sex, and smoking status (including years since quitting). They are followed annually accounting for births, net immigrations, deaths and product use changes, with follow-up carried out in the Base Case (ZYN not introduced) and Modified Case (ZYN introduced). Using informed assumptions about initiation, quitting and switching rates, distributions of the population over time are then constructed for each Case, and used to estimate product mortality based on assumptions about the relative risk according to product use.
Whereas in both Base and Modified Cases, the prevalence of any current product use is predicted to decline from about 22% to 10% during follow-up, in the Modified Case about 25% of current users use ZYN by 2050, about a quarter being dual users and the rest ZYN-only users. Over the 50 years, deaths at ages 35-84 from product use among the 100,000 are estimated as 249 less in the Modified than the Base Case, equivalent to about 700,000 less in the whole US. Sensitivity analyses varying individual parameter values confirm the benefits of switching to ZYN, which increase as either the switching rate to ZYN increases or the initiation rate of ZYN relative to smoking increases. Even assuming the reduction in excess mortality risk using ZYN use is 20% of that from smoking rather than the 3.5% assumed in the main analyses, the reduction in product-related deaths would still be 213, or about 600,000 in the US.
Although such model-based estimates involve uncertainties, the results suggest that introducing ZYN could substantially reduce product-related deaths.

© 2022. The Author(s).