Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) “warning to parents” at a press conference on Tuesday about Zyn, an oral nicotine product that he said was being marketed to children and teenagers, attracted flack online from users of the product.
“These nicotine pouches seem to lock their sights on young kids, teenagers and even lower, and then use the social media to hook them,” Schumer said, according to a report by CBS.
Smokeless tobacco brands have come under criticism in the European Union in the past for using influencers to push the product to young people, according to the Guardian.
Zyn says it does not use social influencers or engage in product placement, and that it does not use people under the age of 35 in its marketing materials.
In the U.S., Zyn’s social channels and website are restricted to users over the age of 21.
But according to Schumer and critics of the product, the marketing draws in young people, which is why Schumer announced that he’d be requesting an investigation by the FTC and the FDA over the company’s marketing and negative health effects from the product.
The push is similar to a recent government crackdown on Juul. Much like flavored vapes, Zyn comes in colorful cans with choices like Wintergreen, Spearmint, Citrus, and Mint.
Schumer’s announcement drew quick backlash online, with plenty of tongue-in-cheek outrage over the idea that Schumer might take the product away.
“i will make Jan. 6th look like a tea party,” posted @bigcontentguy over a screenshot of the news.
Others cast the potential crackdown as a new front in the culture war.
“Chuck Schumer now wants the government to crack down on Zyn calling it a ‘pouch full of problems,’” posted Greg Price, the communications director for the State Freedom Caucus Network, a conservative advocacy group. “Mr. Schumer, this will be your one and only warning on behalf of all the fellas: Do not cross that Rubicon. You will have reaped the whirlwind and you will pay the price.”
According to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s University Health Center, nicotine pouches like Zyn can foster nicotine addiction, which can “negatively impact learning, attention span, and proneness to addiction.” It also points to the lack of long-term data on using the pouches, and highlights other potential side effects like gum irritation, sore mouths, hiccups, and nausea.
Over on TikTok, users sounded off on a video by Dr. Mark discussing the news.
“Nicotine doesn’t cause cancer so boohoo. I’m buying every middle schooler in the area zyns and cigarettes,” commented @tannergood84.
“If they try to ban zyn I’m getting every elementary school student in 100 square mile radius addicted to them,” added @xlina98.
Other TikTokers theorized that banning Zyns would just push kids to smoke cigarettes.
“They rlly want kids to smoke cigs huh,” posted @not_al3x8.
“How else is the government supposed to get money from big Tobacco,” asked @conn_donn_96.
Zyn was created by the company Swedish match, which is a subsidiary of Philip Morris International, the largest private tobacco company in the world.
Back on X, other users discussed what they’d do if a ban did go through.
“I drink cold still water instead of doing zyns, imo it’s much better and doesn’t make you dizzy,” posted @UsingCigarettes.
But that could only be a stopgap measure, warned @bigcontentguy.
“Next they’ll come for our water!”
Correction: This piece originally misstated the age Zyn is available to people in the U.S. and the flavors sold in the country. The Daily Dot regrets the error. Zyn also does not use social media influencers to market its product.