Smokeless tobacco also known as spit tobacco, chew, snuff, pinch or dip is popular among teenagers. Most people think that it is safer than smoking and is a safe substitute for smoking cigarettes.
Many factors can drive young people to use smokeless tobacco, which may include peer pressure, local lifestyle and fashion, general attitudes towards authority, economic conditions, examples set by teachers and school staff, presence of gangs and use of illegal drugs and alcohol.
Here are the facts that you should know about smokeless tobacco:
1. Smokeless tobacco contains NICOTINE
Just like cigarettes, smokeless tobacco also contains the same addictive chemical NICOTINE. In fact, your body can absorb greater amounts (3 to 4 times) of nicotine from chewing tobacco or snuff than from smoking cigarettes.
2. Smokeless tobacco is addictive
Because smokeless tobacco contains nicotine, you can also get addicted to it—the same way you get addicted to smoking cigarettes.
3. Smokeless tobacco causes cancer
Just like smoking cigarettes, smokeless tobacco also causes cancer. This includes esophageal cancer, various types of oral cancer (cancer of the mouth, throat, cheek, gums, lips, and tongue), pancreatic cancer and cancer of the kidney.
4. Chewing smokeless tobacco causes tooth decay
Chewing smokeless tobacco can contribute to cavity formation because smokeless tobacco contains high amounts of sugar and coarse particles that can irritate gums and scratch away the enamel of the teeth.
5. Chewing smokeless tobacco can cause gum disease
Smokeless tobacco contains high amounts of sugar and coarse particles that causes your gums to pull away from your teeth (recession of gums).
6. Smokeless tobacco causes staining of the teeth, loss of taste and bad breath
7. Smokeless tobacco increases your risk to heart attack and stroke
8. Smokeless tobacco can cause precancerous lesions in the mouth
Smokeless tobacco is strongly associated with the development of a precancerous lesion of the soft tissue in the mouth called leukoplakia. This lesion consists of a white patch or plaque that cannot be scraped off.
9. Smokeless tobacco affects reproductive health
Using smokeless tobacco while pregnant increases a woman’s risks for preeclampsia, premature birth and low birth weight. In men, it causes reduced sperm count and abnormal sperm cells.
10. Smokeless tobacco cannot be used to help you quit smoking
Because smokeless tobacco contains nicotine and other chemicals also found in cigarettes, using it will not help you quit. Instead it will lead to nicotine addiction and dependence and you might end up using both cigarettes and smokeless tobacco.