a person holding a tin of snus

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Loughborough University and PFA publish findings from joint research study into Snus use in professional football

  • 18% of surveyed male players and 22% of female players said they currently use Snus or nicotine pouches
  • 42% of male respondents and 39% of female respondents said they had used the substance at least once in the past
  • Over 50% of current users in the men’s game indicated they want to quit
  • More than half of those in the men’s game and almost three-quarters in the women’s game reported elements of nicotine dependence

Findings from a first-of-its kind study into Snus use in professional football have been published by the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) and Loughborough University.

Snus is a smokeless nicotine product placed between the upper lip and gumline and is increasingly prevalent across the UK. Its use has been associated with various health conditions in the general population, though to date no research had explored its specific use in football.

Last year, the PFA commissioned a research project with Loughborough University to explore the usage and perceived health and performance effects of Snus among professional footballers.

In total, 628 and 51 participants were surveyed from the men’s and women’s game respectively, and interviews were conducted with 16 club performance and medical staff currently working in men’s and academy football.

Currently, 18% of the surveyed male players and 22% of the female players use Snus or nicotine pouches. Additionally, 42% of the men and 39% of the women have tried the substance at least once in the past. Over half of current users in the men’s game indicated they want to quit over the next 12 months.

Most players used legal tobacco-free nicotine pouches rather than tobacco-based Snus, however, players often used the term Snus to refer to nicotine pouches.

Players reported mostly using Snus and nicotine pouches socially to relax and spend time with teammates, with the most common times for use after training, post-game and on days off. Anecdotally, club staff indicated that players would look to Snus to help ‘unwind’ from the adrenaline of an evening game.

Of the players surveyed who used the substance, many reported elements of nicotine dependence – 53% in the men’s game and 73% in the women’s game. The most common withdrawal symptoms noted across both male and female samples were cravings, irritableness and restlessness.

The majority of players from both samples reported receiving no education about Snus use (58% in men, 86% in women), highlighting an awareness gap among players regarding the impact and health implications of the substance which some players reported as sickness, headaches and impacted sleep.

Dr Daniel Read, lead researcher and lecturer at the Institute for Sport Business, Loughborough University London, said: "There has been growing interest concerning Snus use in English football and this project was a good opportunity to understand better how common its use is, as well as staff and player experiences.

“Overall, the findings show that Snus and tobacco-free nicotine pouch use among professional footballers is higher than typically seen in the UK general population and players often use these products to relax and manage stress.

“Importantly, the study showed that most players had not received information or education about using nicotine pouches. This is a challenge for the game given the side-effects and difficulty experienced when trying to quit reported by players.

“In terms of player support, the evidence provides a starting point to help players make an informed decision about their use. The report also details initial guidance to clubs and football organisations about how to help players looking to reduce or stop their use."

Dr Michael Bennett, Director of Player Wellbeing at the PFA, said: “This is an important piece of work that will help players, clubs and medical staff make informed decisions about Snus use. We have been aware of Snus use becoming more prevalent in dressing rooms across the country, but until now its use in professional football has not been formally explored.

“Importantly, these findings tell us that while a lot of players appear to be looking to substances like Snus as a coping mechanism to handle the growing demands of the game, many are not fully aware of its effects and addictive qualities.  

“As the players’ union, our primary concern is our members’ welfare. This research will help us ensure that the PFA’s own support services, and those of club medical teams, are grounded in football-specific evidence and tailored to the needs of players.”

The study’s findings will be used to inform the PFA’s own welfare and safeguarding programmes and to facilitate knowledge exchange with clubs and medical teams around Snus use in football.

Download the full SNUS use in English Professional Football report.

Notes for editors

Press release reference number: 24/64

About Loughborough University:

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines. 

It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme and named the best university in the world for sports-related subjects in the 2024 QS World University Rankings – the eighth year running. 

Loughborough is ranked 6th in The UK Complete University Guide 2025, 10th in the Guardian University League Table 2024 and 10th in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024. 

Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’, and in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021 over 90% of its research was rated as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally-excellent’. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes. 

The Loughborough University London campus is based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and offers postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities. It is home to influential thought leaders, pioneering researchers and creative innovators who provide students with the highest quality of teaching and the very latest in modern thinking. 


About the PFA:

The Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) is the independent trade union for professional footballers in England. Founded in 1907, it is the world’s longest-serving sports trade union.

The PFA represents and provides independent support to all current and former professional footballers and scholars across the Premier League, the English Football League (EFL) and the Barclay’s Women’s Super League (BWSL).

As the only organisation in football that solely prioritises player needs, the PFA exists to protect the rights of members and to provide support in both their professional and personal lives. It provides a range of core services to its members which include, legal advice, wellbeing support, education, coaching qualifications, and support around discrimination and equality issues.