Smokeless ≠ Harmless
Smokeless ≠ Harmless
There are two kinds of smokeless tobacco: snuff and chewing tobacco.
- Snuff is ground or shredded tobacco, and it comes dry or moist, usually in small pouches. A pinch or dip is placed between the cheek and gum.
- Chewing tobacco comes in loose leaf, plug-firm, plug-moist, or twist forms. The user puts a wad of tobacco inside the cheek.
Some people call smokeless tobacco "spit" or "spitting tobacco" because users spit out the juices and saliva that build up in the mouth. Really attractive, right? Other names for chewing tobacco are dip, packing a lipper, packing a dip, lip dirt, and chaw.
Smokeless Is Not Harmless
People who get a boost or feel good when they use smokeless tobacco are experiencing the effects of the addictive drug nicotine. Nicotine provides an almost immediate kick of adrenaline and a sudden release of glucose. Then come depression and fatigue, which stink, of course. So the user chews more to get more feel-good nicotine. With regular use, nicotine stays in the body overnight. Daily tobacco users are exposed to the effects of nicotine 24 hours a day. Nicotine is very addictive and that's why it's so hard to stop. Smokeless tobacco hooks users on nicotine, just like cigarettes do. So it's a myth that using snuff or chew is a good way to help you quit smoking.
Smokeless Tobacco Is NOT a Safe Substitute for Smoking Cigarettes
Smokeless tobacco contains more nicotine than cigarettes! Use snuff or chewing tobacco and you'll absorb three to four times as much nicotine as you would from smoking a cigarette. And the nicotine stays in the bloodstream longer. Use two cans a week and you'll get the same amount of nicotine as smoking a pack and a half a day.
- Chewing tobacco and snuff contain 28 cancer-causing agents.
- Smokeless tobacco users are 50 (yes, that's 5-0) times more likely than nonusers to get cancer of the cheek, gums, and inner surface of the lips.
- Smokeless tobacco users are at greater risk for mouth cancer than are nonusers, and these cancers can form within 5 years of regular use. So much for thinking you'll quit LATER.
- Leathery white patches and red sores common in smokeless tobacco users' mouths can turn into cancer.
- Smokeless tobacco and tobacco juice can lead to cancer of the tongue, esophagus, larynx, stomach, pancreas, prostate, and the floor and roof of the mouth.
Other Serious Health Problems
- Smokeless tobacco users have a higher risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and heart attacks due to the high concentration of salt in smokeless tobacco.
- Smokeless tobacco users are at greater risk for high cholesterol than people who don't use tobacco.
- Smokeless tobacco does not improve athletic performance. The initial buzz caused by smokeless tobacco raises your pulse and blood pressure-extra stress on your heart.
Smile. While You Still Have Teeth
- Smokeless tobacco can cause your gums to pull away from the teeth where tobacco is held-the gums do not grow back.
- Chewing tobacco users are four times more likely than nonusers to have serious dental problems. Spit tobacco also causes gum disease (gingivitis), which can lead to bone and tooth loss.
- This should come as no surprise, but the smell of chewing tobacco breath is gross. Other people notice. Brush and floss as much as you want but there's no way it will undo the harm of smokeless tobacco.
- While cavities are the least of a smokeless tobacco user's worries, the sugar added to smokeless tobacco during processing increases the risk of cavities.
Think Everyone Is Doing It?
- Only 19 percent of males aged 18–24 who are in the military use smokeless tobacco.1 Almost 83 percent of guys in this age range don't chew. So while it might seem like everybody's doing it, they really aren't.
1Bray, R. M., Pemberton, M. R., Hourani, L. L., Witt, M., Olmsted, K. L. R., Brown, J. M., et al. (2009). 2008 Department of Defense survey of health related behaviors among active duty military personnel: A component of the Defense Lifestyle Assessment Program (DLAP). Research Triangle Park, NC: RTI International. http://www.tricare.mil/2008HealthBehaviors.pdf