When it comes to nicotine, the impact on health — good or bad — depends on which researcher you’re talking to. Enter Zyn, a nicotine pouch that has been on the market for about a decade but recently exploded in popularity on social media. This isn’t your traditional smoke break; instead, it’s a discreet pouch tucked under the lip, slowly releasing nicotine into the system. 

So, while public health experts debate whether getting a dose of nicotine through a pouch is simply substituting one unhealthy habit for another, there’s another danger lurking: The way nicotine-based products are often marketed to children and teens.  

On TikTok, videos with teens using Zyn have racked up millions of views, even though it’s illegal to sell it to minors. Nicotine, the addictive drug in tobacco, has long been reported to increase the risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke, and birth-related illnesses.  

Why this matters: Black adults face disproportionate rates of cancer, cardiovascular disease, depression, and stroke, and 87% of adults tried their first cigarette by age 18. Children and teens are incredibly vulnerable to addictive drugs. But instead of centering the debate on how harmful nicotine is — what’s actually leading kids to get ahold of these drugs? 

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