Smokeless Tobacco - Experience

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At what age did you first start chewing tobacco? Please share your experience, including why you started.

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What is chewing tobacco?

Chewing tobacco is sometimes known as chewing tobacco or spitting tobacco. It is available in two forms, snuff and chewing tobacco. Both types of chewing tobacco are held in the mouth inside the cheek or between the cheek and gum. Snuff and chewing tobacco are commonly available in tins or pouches; popular brand names include Skoal and Copenhagen. Snus (pronounced like "snoose") is a finely ground form of snuff that originated in Norway and Sweden that comes in small tins. The amount of snuff placed in the mouth is referred to as a pinch, dip, lipper, or quid. A portion of chewing tobacco is referred to as a plug, wad, or chew.

Chewing tobacco is known to contain at least 28 cancer-causing chemicals, medically known as carcinogens. The main carcinogens in chewing tobacco are the tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNAs). Some of the other cancer-causing agents found in chewing tobacco are formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, arsenic, benzopyrene, nickel, and cadmium. Many people mistakenly believed that snus is a safe form of chewing tobacco because it is steam-heated rather than fermented when produced in Norway or Sweden, causing it to have fewer nitrosamines. However, snus still contains a number of cancer-causing chemicals. Snus made in America is not necessarily processed in the same way as in Norway or Sweden.

Nicotine is also found in snuff and chewing tobacco, like all tobacco products. Although nicotine is absorbed more slowly from chewing tobacco than from cigarettes, 3 to 4 times more nicotine is absorbed from chewing tobacco than from a cigarette, and the nicotine from chewing tobacco remains longer in the bloodstream. Nicotine is the substance responsible for tobacco addiction.

Chewing tobacco is not the same thing as chewing cigarettes. Chewing cigarettes (also termed e-cigarettes) are designed to provide nicotine in vapor to the user without burning tobacco. However, the smokeless cigarettes still provide addictive nicotine to the user and secondhand nicotine to others.

Return to Chewing Tobacco (Smokeless Tobacco, Snuff)

See what others are saying

Comment from: Ty, 25-34 Male (Patient) Published: October 02

I started chewing Skoal and leaf tobacco at the age of 15. By the time I was 16 or 17, I chewed Copenhagen snuff. I am now 33. I quit several times over the years, the longest being for about 6 months when I enlisted in the Army. I am an avid swimmer and very healthy; except for this Copenhagen habit! Well, I just quit and am only on day 2. I'm definitely craving right now but just trying to take one day at a time, for my 3 kids and beautiful wife! Good luck to everyone else going through the same thing!

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Comment from: chew22, 45-54 Male (Patient) Published: August 25

I have been a dipper of tobacco for 41 years. I started in college, quit 2 or 3 times for 3 to 6 months during the last 41 years to always go back. It is very hard to kick the habit. I actually don't even like it! But I still can't kick the habit.

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