One in five footballers uses snus or nicotine pouches, a survey reveals | Football


About one in five male and female professional players who participated in a new survey use snus, nicotine pouches, or both. The Loughborough University study, commissioned by the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA), also identified that two in five had tried the bags at least once.

The report states that the actual usage figures are likely higher because players do not want to reveal their usage, even in an anonymous survey. Of the 628 male players surveyed, at least first division or EFL clubs, 18% said they used it, while 22% of the 51 Women's Super League players surveyed said they were users.

Improved mental preparation was cited as a key benefit perceived by users (29% and 55% respectively), with 41% of male players saying they used it to relax, most commonly after training and matches. That figure was 64% among female players.

One of 16 professional club medical and performance staff interviewed said players used it as a “coping mechanism.” The pouches are also used as appetite suppressants, according to the report.

The report highlighted the potential negative physical impacts, particularly of snus use. A review of the available evidence suggests that its use is associated with an increased risk of esophageal and pancreatic cancer compared to non-smokers and with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

There is strong evidence of an association between snus use and oral lesions. Snus contains tobacco and is not legally available to purchase in the UK, while tobacco-free nicotine pouches, which were found to be more commonly used among gamblers, are legal to purchase. The bags are usually placed between the upper lip and gums.

The survey found that users often began using the products in an effort to fit in with other, often higher-ranking, teammates: 56% of male users gave this as a reason, rising to 73% among women. .

About half of men's soccer users indicated they wanted to quit in the next 12 months. Photograph: Molly Darlington/Reuters

This prevalence of use was identified as a barrier to quitting, with one player surveyed admitting: “I've quit smoking twice in eight months, but I always seem to start again. (I) find it difficult to quit smoking when I'm doing this all day.”

A member of staff at one club said he had come across a player whose career had been mainly in the Premier League and Championship who described himself as a “heavy user” and had told the staff member: “I'd love to go out “That, but I can't. It's everywhere I look. All the other players take it, (I) go fill up my car and it's at the pumps.”

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About half of users in the men's game indicated they wanted to quit in the next 12 months, but the majority of WSL users had no intention of doing so.

Users reported experiencing primary indicators of nicotine dependence, such as using it inadvertently or unintentionally. Short-term withdrawal symptoms were also common: cravings, irritability, restlessness, and anxiety.

The report highlights the risk of an adverse anti-doping outcome if products purchased online or through social media have been contaminated. It found club bans had not been effective in deterring use and recommended tailored external support and avoiding stigmatizing those seeking help.

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