Smokeless Tobacco Advertising Myths
Smokeless Tobacco Advertising Myths
Here’s something we know for sure: You work hard to earn your paycheck, and you know the value of a dollar. But the tobacco industry is working just as hard to get you to spend that paycheck on chewing tobacco, snus, snuff, or dip. How else can you explain that, during 2005, the five largest tobacco manufacturers spent a record $251 million to advertise smokeless tobacco? That’s $688,000 per day! Annually, smokeless tobacco is a $3.5 billion industry in the United States alone, and it’s the only area of the tobacco industry where business is booming. Sales of smokeless tobacco—often called spit tobacco or chewing tobacco—rose 6 percent during 2004, even while cigarette sales fell by 3 percent.
Not surprisingly, the tobacco industry has brought out the heavy marketing artillery to increase profits even more. And guess what? You are their target buyer. Smokeless tobacco advertising, which is banned from television, shows up in magazines, often is aimed at young people, and is zeroing in on young men. Doesn’t it make you feel a little mad to be caught in the crosshairs? Get your chewing tobacco facts here and expose their advertising myths.
The tobacco industry hopes it can smoke out new users with advertising come-ons such as these:
Smokeless tobacco: the "healthier" alternative
The most common advertising myth may be that smokeless tobacco is less of a health risk than cigarettes. Some ads suggest that cigarette smokers should switch to smokeless tobacco as a safer alternative. The fact is, chewing tobacco has higher nicotine levels, making it more addictive than cigarettes. The effects of smokeless tobacco cause significant health risks, including oral cancer and cancer of the intestines and stomach. Some studies estimate that smokeless tobacco users increase their risk of oral cancer by as much as 50 percent. Long-term use of smokeless tobacco has been linked to heart disease. Smokeless ≠ Harmless contains a full list of health risks and the effects of chewing tobacco.
At least half of all regular smokeless tobacco users will develop leukoplakia after about 3 years. Leukoplakia is pretty revolting—tough, scaly, white sores that often form in the mouth where users hold their chaw. These sores turn into oral cancer in about 3 to 5 percent of cases. Other common side effects of using smokeless tobacco, even for a short time, include gum disease, stained and loose teeth, cavities, and teeth that are sensitive to heat and cold. All in all, your mouth becomes a muddy, murky, crumbling mess.
"I’m too sexy for my cigs."
Many ads suggest that smokeless tobacco is better for your social life because it won’t make your hair, clothes, and breath smell like an ashtray. But smokeless tobacco is hardly date-bait. What’s so attractive about bulging cheeks, gunk stuck in your teeth, permanently discolored teeth, and frequent spitting? Surgery for oral cancer, which may remove parts of your face, tongue, cheek, or lip, also may put a real crimp in your social and love life. Half of a face, a big chunk missing from your tongue…none of that makes for a great love connection.
These same ads may claim that smokeless tobacco is better than cigarettes because it can be used at work and other public places where smoking is banned. No secondhand smoke, no problem, right? Wrong. Spitting is disgusting, particularly if you don’t have a pot to spit into. And a spit cup? Like carrying a sewer drain in your hand.
Be the spitting image of your sports idol!
Ten years ago, more than 40 percent of professional baseball players used chewing tobacco. A lot of young people associate smokeless tobacco with their favorite players. But baseball players and managers have wised up, and the game has turned. The percentage of ball players who currently chew or dip has dropped to 25 percent. Most players who still chew or dip want to quit because chewing tobacco damages an athlete’s skills and health. Nicotine in tobacco narrows blood vessels, reducing the amount of blood the heart can pump throughout the body. Less blood flow means dizziness and slower reaction times.
Major League Baseball has banned chewing tobacco companies from giving samples to players or advertising in stadiums. Chewing tobacco companies can’t get to the players as easily, so they’re going after the fans, but now you are forewarned. Play smart! Ban smokeless tobacco from your own life as well.
Don’t buy into the tobacco industry’s marketing hype. The effects of chewing tobacco are a danger to your health, your career, and your good looks. If you smoke cigarettes, don’t even think about switching to smokeless tobacco. The only safe alternative to cigarette use is no tobacco at all. If you already dip or chew, make a quit plan. Thinking About Quitting Tobacco will get you started.