Note to kids, teens, and young adults: Do yourself a favor and avoid starting a nicotine addiction. It's one of the most addictive drugs on earth. National Institute of Health studies note that nicotine is far more likely to become a chemical dependence than cocaine, alcohol, or cannabis.

Why is there a shortage of Zyn products on store shelves in Montana?

Zyn use has exploded in recent years. The Wall Street Journal (paywalled) reports Zyn product sales are up a whopping 80% in the last year. In the last couple of weeks, I've noticed that my favorite Zyn flavor (Smooth 6) has been more difficult to find on store shelves in Montana. Now, my 2nd and 3rd choice flavors are becoming out-of-stock too.

My parents do not drink or use tobacco. Growing up, I knew tobacco was "bad", but shortly after I turned 18 I started using smokeless tobacco anyway. Many Montana men (and a surprising amount of women) chew, and Copenhagen Long Cut was my go-to for many years. Working in the bar scene as a DJ, cigarettes were eventually added to my tobacco mix.

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Immature tobacco plant. Credit Michael Foth, TSM
Immature tobacco plant. Credit Michael Foth, TSM
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Nicotine is hard to kick.

Soon I was smoking over a half-pack a day AND chewing tobacco, often simultaneously. This combo lasted for nearly two decades. I also used other harder recreational drugs, and if we want to go all-in on honesty, I was a functioning addict for many years. Kicking the harder drugs turned out to be far easier than quitting tobacco.

Photo by OC Gonzalez on Unsplash
Photo by OC Gonzalez on Unsplash
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I quit cigarettes but continued to chew.

As a former smoker, I'll say this without worrying about offending anyone... smoking is gross. It smells bad, ages your face, yellows your teeth, and is proven to cause many health issues.

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Chewing was more difficult to quit than cigarettes, and it's gross too.

A couple of years ago I switched to the nicotine pouches made by Zyn. The company is owned by tobacco giant Phillip Morris. I'm sure Zyn products are not any healthier as far as blood pressure and other medical side effects of using smokeless tobacco.

Still, the nicotine pouches don't cut up my lip like Copenhagen; the cans are slightly cheaper, and the pharmaceutical-grade nicotine powder wrapped in an easy-to-tuck, biodegradable paper pouch seems like a slightly safer alternative.

Credit Zyn via screenshot
Credit Zyn via screenshot
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 Was there a Zyn warehouse fire?

Clerks at the convenience stores in the Billings area have been telling me it's a supply shortage and that one of the Zyn factories caught on fire. The Zyn factory fire story seems to be partially true.

According to online nicotine retailer Prilla.com, a Zyn production facility in Sweden caught fire earlier this year, but that factory only produced Zyn for European markets, unaffecting the US market.

Credit Canva
Credit Canva
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Zyn in the US is produced at a factory in Kentucky.

There have been no verified reports of a fire at a Zyn manufacturing plant in the US. The WSJ says the shortage is due to overwhelming demand for the product, but is there more to the story? I find it hard to believe that the world's largest tobacco company can't figure out how to quickly ramp up production of a best-selling, highly addictive product.

Poking around for an explanation on the internet today, I found what I believe to be a possible legitimate reason for the Zyn shortage. According to a Reddit poster who claims to work for the company, it's not that Phillip Morris can't keep up with the demand, but there is a supply chain issue with the company that makes the plastic cans.

Every time I hear about "supply chain issues" I have pandemic flashbacks. That excuse is getting old, don't you agree?

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