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Health Services

Health Education

Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs

Smokeless Tobacco
What is smokeless tobacco?

Smokeless tobacco, like smoked tobacco (cigarettes), contains the highly addictive drug nicotine. Smokeless tobacco comes in two forms: moist snuff and chew. Snuff is finely ground tobacco that users place a pinch of between the cheek and gum in the mouth and hold it there. Chewing tobacco is coarser than snuff and is chewed.

Besides nicotine, smokeless tobacco also contains more than 3000 chemicalsŚat least 28 of which are carcinogens, including nitrosamines, polonium 210, formaldehyde, cadmium, and arsenic.

How does smokeless tobacco compare to cigarettes?

According to the National Institutes of Health, holding an average amount of smokeless tobacco in your mouth for 30 minutes delivers as much nicotine into your body as 3 cigarettes.

Who uses smokeless tobacco?

Men between the ages of 16 and 30 are the most common smokeless tobacco users. As smoke-free laws and ordinances have come into place, the tobacco industry has marketed smokeless tobacco as an alternative to cigarettes where smoking is prohibited.

What are the short-term consequences of using smokeless tobacco?

Bad breath and stained teeth are common consequences of using smokeless tobacco. In addition, smokeless tobacco use induces drooling and requires spitting (if the juice is swallowed, it makes you sick), making chew or snuff use a repulsive activity to observe.

What are the long-term consequences of using smokeless tobacco?

Smokeless tobacco use brings about some of the same long-term consequences as smoking because the nicotine is common to both products; but it also poses some additional long-term health risks. Health risks of smokeless tobacco include:

  1. Gum recession
  2. Sores, white patches, red patches, and lumps inside the mouth
  3. Oral cancer: users of smokeless tobacco are at 4 times the risk of developing oral cancers than non-users
  4. Hypertension
  5. Heart Disease
  6. Ulcers
Where can I get help?

See Cessation for information on where to get help with nicotine addiction.