Since 2018 there have been reports of Premier League footballers being seen with “snus”. However, use of the nicotine pouches is reported to have been widespread and popular among many pro players long before this, with Jamie Vardy quoted as stating he started using when he joined Leicester City Football Club in 2012.
Since these initial reports, the prevalence and popularity of snus among the sport and its players has only grown, with it becoming rife in the game. This has led to recent reports of some professional players desperately seeking help for their snus addiction as their dependence on this product became out of hand, despite potentials threats to their professional performance.
What Is Snus?
Snus is a type of smokeless tobacco product that originated in Sweden, similar in appearance to a teabag with the product is contained within a sachet. The sachet consists of small packets of moist, ground tobacco that are placed under the upper lip for extended periods of time. Unlike other types of smokeless tobacco, snus is pasteurised rather than fermented, which in theory results in a lower level of harmful substances, such as nitrosamines.
Snus is popular in Scandinavia, particularly in Sweden, where it has a long history and is widely used. It is also gaining popularity in other parts of Europe and around the world, particularly as an alternative to smoking. Some people use snus as a way to quit smoking, as it provides a similar nicotine experience without some of the harmful effects of smoking tobacco. However, each sachet contains 27.3 mg of nicotine, much higher than the 10 mg found in a standard cigarette.
It is important to note that snus is not without its own health risks, and can still lead to negative health outcomes, particularly with prolonged use. Snus has been illegal to sell in the UK and Europe since 1992, although it is not illegal to use, yet this doesn’t seem to have stopped its ever-increasing popularity and snus became an integral part of UK football culture.
Why Do Footballers Use Snus?
The use of snus among footballers is a controversial topic, and it is not clear why some footballers choose to use it. However, there are several possible reasons why some footballers might use snus, as many players seem to believe it provides both a mental and physical boost.
One reason may be that snus is a way for footballers to get a nicotine fix without having to smoke cigarettes, which can be harmful to their health and may affect their athletic performance due to the known effects of smoking on lung health. Some footballers may also use snus as a way to reduce stress and anxiety, as nicotine can have a calming effect. Others have cited the use of snus as an appetite suppressant or as something that seems to help increase concentration and alertness while playing.
Another possible reason is that the use of snus has become somewhat normalised within certain football cultures, particularly in Scandinavia. In these countries, snus is widely used by the general population and is not subject to the same level of social stigma as smoking.
It's important to note that the use of snus among footballers is not without risks. Like all tobacco products, snus can be addictive and can have negative health consequences, particularly with prolonged use. Additionally, the use of snus may be prohibited by some football organisations and may result in disciplinary action if a player is found to be using it. Experts are calling for more research to determine whether or not the use of nicotine pouches provides an unfair advantage to footballers, as there is currently no scientific evidence to support their performance-enhancing benefit.
Performance Threat: The Negative Impact of Snus Addiction
There is limited research on the specific effects of snus on football performance, but it is known that nicotine can have both positive and negative effects on athletic performance.
Nicotine can cause vasoconstriction, or narrowing of blood vessels, which can reduce blood flow to muscles and decrease endurance. Nicotine can also impair lung function, which could negatively affect a footballer's ability to perform at a high level for extended periods of time.
Due to the highly addictive nature of nicotine, some football players are consuming excessive amounts that can negatively impact their sleep, increasing the risk of injury as the lack of rest can impair the nervous system and hinder the healing process.
Additionally, snus can have negative health consequences over the long term, such as an increased risk of cancer and other diseases, which could ultimately affect a footballer's performance and overall health. With muscle injuries on the rise, some are starting to worry that snus may be part of the problem.
It's important to note that the effects of snus on football performance will vary depending on the individual and the specific situation. However, in general, it is best for footballers to avoid using tobacco products, including snus, in order to maintain optimal health and performance.
PFA to Conduct Research and Launch Workshops Highlighting Risks of Snus
The Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) is set to launch a campaign this summer aimed at raising awareness among players of the potential risks associated with snus. As part of this effort, the PFA plans to conduct research and hold workshops to educate players on the effects of snus on the brain, behaviour, and wellbeing, as well as the potential long-term risks of its use.
The PFA has already surveyed players on the prevalence of snus use and has had members seek support for addiction to the substance. While snus is not a banned substance, the PFA aims to work with club medical staff to provide clear and accurate information to help players make informed decisions about their health.
This relationship with club medical staff has allowed the PFA to remain informed and monitor this rising addiction amidst fears of usage spiralling out of control. Following initial workshops, several players have actively sought out help for snus addiction.
Footballers Are Seeking Help for Addiction, and So Can You
The use of snus among footballers is clearly a growing concern, with reports of players seeking help for addiction to the substance. While some players may use snus as a way to reduce stress or as an appetite suppressant, the negative health consequences, particularly with prolonged use, can impact their performance on the field.
The PFA's campaign to raise awareness of the risks associated with snus and educate players on the effects of the substance on their wellbeing is a positive step towards addressing the issue. It is essential that players have access to accurate information to make informed decisions about their health, and that clubs work with the PFA to support players struggling with addiction.
Ultimately, the best approach is for footballers to avoid using tobacco products, including snus, to maintain their optimal health and performance. However, many agree that prohibiting the use of it alone is not an effective solution for deterring players from using it, especially as the substance itself is neither illegal nor banned within the sport. Instead, unpacking the deeper issue of helping players develop protocols and practices to manage stress and providing healthy coping mechanisms should be a priority.
If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, there is support available. Please reach out for help.