The landscape of nicotine products has changed. In the United States, the percentage of active cigarette smokers decreased from 20.9% in 2005 to 12.5% in 2020. This is due to a combination of government anti-smoking efforts and the introduction of alternative nicotine products. Although cigarettes remain the most popular and accessible nicotine products on the global market, it’s no longer possible to ignore the rise in popularity of e-cigarettes and smokeless options –– especially when it comes to younger demographics.
While these are all nicotine products, there’s a lot to understand in terms of what makes the options so different from one another. In this article, we’ll briefly define what falls under each category, and delve into which option can give you the most variety.
A typical cigarette consists of shredded or ground tobacco wrapped into a paper cylinder. It’s a simple formula, but different products include varying amounts of additives like flavoring agents and ammonia. These are meant to do things like improve the taste, keep the tobacco moist, and extend the cigarette’s shelf life.
As of this writing, menthol is the primary non-tobacco flavor additive used by most U.S. brands like Marlboro, Newport, and Camel. There are, however, various specific flavor variations offered by leading cigarette brands. The top brand Marlboro comes in divisions: It has a flavor line, gold line, and fresh line. Similarly, Natural American Spirit cigarettes are packaged in different colors according to flavor variations.
The classic yellow pack is known to have a mellow taste, while the black colorway has a more rich, robust flavor thanks to its perique tobacco content. However, other users have reservations about using cigarettes due to their effects on dental health. Smoking increases the risk of gum disease, and our previous article on ‘How to Stabilize a Loose Tooth at Home’ warned that gum disease could lead to tooth loss. These dental consequences have led customers to seek other alternatives, such as vapes and nicotine pouches.
“Electronic Nicotine Delivery System” (ENDS) is the technical umbrella term encompassing cig-a-likes, vape pens, mods, and pod mods. Traditional cigarettes deliver nicotine by burning tobacco, but these alternative devices simulate cigarette smoke by heating liquid into aerosol vapor. Vapes often come in rechargeable bodies resembling USB devices, which need to be refilled with cartridges containing flavored “e-liquid.” Accordingly, vapes’ main selling point (besides being “smokeless”) is the wide variety of flavors available across different brands.
From 2014 through 2020, e-cigarette sales and popularity in the U.S. increased notably as product prices decreased. Vape brand Juul skyrocketed in popularity due to its unique range that included flavors from mango to crème brûlée. Both Juul and Vuse are prefilled devices, which means they come with standard company flavors. On the other hand, brands Caliburn and Nord are not prefilled –– meaning users can fill the pods with the e-liquids of their preference.
Some vape pods also have removable coils or adjustable settings for further customization.
Nicotine pouches, unlike cigarettes and vapes, are tobacco-free products placed between the cheek and the gums. They often contain nicotine, flavorings, sweeteners, and plant-based fibers. Pouches are currently available in a variety of staple flavors like wintergreen and spearmint, and Prilla speculates that more “fun” flavors – like pumpkin spice, chai, peanut butter, and coconut – could eventually be headed to the market.
Most nicotine pouches come in easy-to-carry, colorful packaging resembling candy, mint, or gum containers. While they may not be as popular as cigarettes or vapes, CSP Daily News reports that the smokeless category has been on the rise in the last few years, thanks to its user-friendliness. Pouches can be used even when in transit, or during other everyday activities like exercising or relaxing in bed. And unlike vaping products, these pouches require no batteries and no accessory devices. They’re also fairly affordable, costing about as much as a pack of cigarettes.
Overall, cigarettes, vapes, and nicotine pouches differ from each other in many ways. Cigarettes and vapes both involve smoke (or vapor) and inhalation; nicotine pouches do not. Vapes and pouches are flavored and tobacco-free, while cigarettes are not. Additionally, there are different customization options. However, if we’re talking in terms of flavor variety, vapes and nicotine pouches definitely have the edge over traditional cigarettes.