- How Smoking Affects Your Looks & Life Slideshow
- Tips to Quit Smoking Slideshow
- Take the Quiz on Smoking
- Patient Comments: Smokeless Tobacco - Experience
- Patient Comments: Smokeless Tobacco - Treatments
- Find a local Doctor in your town
- Chewing tobacco facts
- What is chewing tobacco?
- What are the health risks of chewing tobacco?
- Cancer risk and chewing tobacco
- Other health risks of chewing tobacco
- Is chewing tobacco safer than cigarette smoking?
- What is being done to reduce the use of chewing tobacco?
- What treatments are available to help people quit using chewing tobacco?
Chewing tobacco facts
- Smokeless, snuff, or chewing tobacco contains nicotine as well as many known carcinogens (cancer-causing substances).
- More nicotine is absorbed by chewing tobacco use that by smoking a cigarette.
- Chewing tobacco use is a risk factor for the development of oral cancers and precancers.
- Other health risks of chewing tobacco include gum disease, tooth decay and tooth loss, and possible links to other cancers and cardiovascular disease.
- Products that are designed to help smokers quit can also be used to help quit chewing tobacco use.
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.