Smokeless Tobacco (cont.)

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Is smokeless tobacco safer than cigarette smoking?

Smokeless tobacco has been widely marketed as a way for cigarette smokers to use tobacco in smoke-free areas, so it is safer for other people because they are not exposed to secondhand smoke. However, in 1986, a statement from the U.S. Surgeon General concluded that users of smokeless tobacco should know that smokeless tobacco "is not a safe substitute for smoking cigarettes." Smokeless tobacco contains nicotine, which is highly addictive, as well as a number of known cancer-causing chemicals. Any form of tobacco use poses an increased risk of developing cancer, and no level is considered safe.

While the risks of getting cancer from smokeless tobacco are lower than those associated with smoking cigarettes, the health risks of smokeless tobacco are very real and potentially fatal. Smokeless tobacco use also has not been shown to be helpful for smokers who want to quit smoking.

What is being done to reduce the use of smokeless tobacco?

Parents are encouraged by health care givers, school authorities, and public health officials to include the topic of smokeless tobacco use when they discuss the hazards of any tobacco use with their children, especially teen aged children. It is better never to start than try to stop the addictive tobacco (nicotine) habit in any form.

Legislation has been enacted to help reduce the number of people who use tobacco products and reduce adverse health risks associated with tobacco use. The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009 gives the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the power to regulate tobacco products in the U.S., which will allow for increased regulation of marketing and advertising of tobacco products, including smokeless tobacco.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/11/2014

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