What You Need to Know About Smokeless Tobacco
Smokeless tobacco products have taken a backseat to smoking for decades, but are recently gaining ground in overall usage and use among young people due to aggressive marketing and new product development. Smokeless tobacco includes chew, spit, dip, snuff, snus and a host of new dissolvable products. They are simply not a safe alternative to smoking and they can be as addictive as, or more addictive than, cigarettes. Smokeless tobacco causes many significant health problems, including several types of cancer.1 Smokeless users have an 80 percent higher risk of oral cancer and a 60 percent higher risk of pancreatic and esophageal cancer.2 Smokeless tobacco products can also increase the risk of a fatal heart attack and stroke.
Using smokeless tobacco can lead to nicotine addiction and dependence.3 For example, the amount of nicotine absorbed from a dip of moist snuff tobacco is three to four times the amount delivered by a cigarette. Even though nicotine is absorbed more slowly from chew tobacco than from cigarettes, chew tobacco users absorb more nicotine per dose and it stays in the bloodstream for a longer time.4
New to the market are a wide variety of smokeless tobacco products, many of which come in different flavors and are typically more affordable than cigarettes. As the number of smoking bans continues to increase nationwide, these products are being marketed to both smokers and nonsmokers. As a result, many smokers are simultaneously using smokeless tobacco products. This dual use of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco is especially concerning because it can add to the many health risks already presented by smoking. While some have proposed using smokeless tobacco as a technique to quit smoking, there is no scientific evidence that using smokeless tobacco can help a person quit smoking.5
Learn more about the deadly legacy of Smokeless Tobacco
Find out about the changing face of Smokeless Tobacco and how it can be a Youth Gateway Product.
- Smokeless tobacco has 28 cancer-causing agents.1
- Exposure to tobacco juice causes cancer of the esophagus, pharynx, larynx, stomach, and pancreas. Spit tobacco causes leukoplakia, a disease of the mouth characterized by white patches and oral lesions on the cheeks, gums, and/or tongue.6
- Chewing tobacco more than doubles the risk of heart attack.7
- Smokeless tobacco products may increase the risk of fatal heart attacks and strokes.8
- Smokeless tobacco use by men causes reduced sperm count and abnormal sperm cells.9
- A study found that chewing tobacco users were four times more likely than non-users to have decayed dental root surfaces. Spit tobacco also causes gum disease (gingivitis), which can lead to bone and tooth loss.10
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1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Smokeless Tobacco Facts. n.d. Web. 20 August 2011.
2 2008 study from the World Health Organization International Agency for Research on Cancer.
3 Cancer Prevention & Early Detection Facts and Figures 2010.
4 National Cancer Institute. Smokeless Tobacco and Cancer: Questions and Answers. Web. www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Tobacco/smokeless
5 The Clinical Practice Guideline Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence 2008 Update Panel, Liaisons, and Staff. A clinical practice guideline for treating tobacco use and dependence: 2008 update. A U.S. Public Health Service report. American Journal of Preventive Medicine 2008; 35(2):158–176.
6 Tobacco-Free Kids. Health Harms from Smokeless Tobacco Use. 5 May 2011. Web. 19 August 2011.
7 Teo, KK, Ounpuu, S, Hawken, S, Pandey, MR, Valentin, V, Hunt, D, Diaz, R, Rashed, W, Freeman, R, Jiang, L, Zhang, X, Yusuf S; INTERHEART Study Investigators. “Tobacco use and risk of myocardial infarction in 52 countries in the INTERHEART study: a case-control study,” The Lancet. 2006;368(9536):647-58.
8 Boffetta, P, et al. “Use of smokeless tobacco and risk of myocardial infarction and stroke: systematic review with meta-analysis,” BMJ, 2009; 339 (aug18 2): b3060 DOI: 10.1136/bmj.b3060
9 World Health Organization. Smokeless Tobacco and Some Tobacco-Specific N-Nitrosamines Exit Notification. (PDF–3.18 MB) International Agency for Research on Cancer Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans Vol. 89. Lyon, France: World Health Organization, 2007.
10 Tomar, SL. “Chewing Tobacco Use and Dental Caries Among U.S. Men,” Journal of the American Dental Association, 1999, 130: 160.