Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the world with 5.4 million deaths each year. Smokeless tobacco is part of these statistics. The popularity of smokeless tobacco in history has had its ups and downs. When cigarette smoking comes under close scrutiny many people will chose an alternative way to get nicotine, smokeless tobacco. Many think it to be a safe choice and has been increasing in popularity since 1980. Smokeless tobacco is NOT a safe choice.
Types of Smokeless Tobacco
- Loose Leaf
State College Area School District Report/ Pennsylvania Youth Survey
- Taste- Flavoring additives (chocolate, grape, mint, etc.) in tobacco to increase young people using.
- Go along with the crowd
- Emulating behaviors of admired people
- Addiction (Nicotine)
What is in Chewing Tobacco?
Sugars and flavoring agents
- Polonium 210 (radio active compound)
- N-Nitrosamines (cancer-causing)
- Formaldehyde (embalming fluid)
- Nicotine (addictive drug)
- Cadmium (used in batteries)
- Cyanide (poison)
- Arsenic (poison)
- Benzene (petroleum product used to make DDT)
- Lead (nerve poison)
Many of these additives are to increase the body's absorption of nicotine.
The Nation Cancer Institute has identified 28 carcinogens in smokeless tobacco. The above are just a few. National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Cancer Institute (NCI), Smoking and Tobacco Control Monograph 2: Smokeless Tobacco or Health: An International Perspective, September 1992.
Nicotine is a highly additive alkaloid drug found in tobacco. The drug is quickly absorbed through the mucosal membrane of the mouth.
- Moist snuff- 4.56 to 15.1 mg of nicotine per gram of tobacco (differences due to different strain of the plant)
- Plug tobacco- 17.2 mg. per 1 gram of tobacco
- Cigarettes- 15 mg of nicotine per gram of tobacco
- 3 packs of cigarettes = 1 can of snuff
“The Health Consequences of Using Smokeless Tobacco”, A report to the Advisory Committee to the Surgeon General, April 1986
Addiction- The body begins to feel more normal with the effects of nicotine than without. Withdrawal symptoms will occur when the drug is withheld. These symptoms may include decrease in heart rate, anxiety, irritability, restlessness, sleep disorders, decrease in concentration and sometimes physically ill.
Direct Effects of Nicotine on the Body
- Central Nervous System- Nicotine stimulates adrenaline production and “pleasure centers” in the brain. First it stimulates (buzz) then it relaxes.
- Circulatory System- Nicotine will constrict blood vessels, increase plaque formation, therefore will increase blood pressure and heart rate. This increase will then lead to an increase risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Effects of chewing tobacco in the mouth
- Bad breathe
- Stained Teeth
- Tooth decay- Sugars and flavoring are added to tobacco. Chewing tobacco is held in the mouth against the lip and teeth. These sugars will cause the demineralization of the tooth structure.
- Gingival irritation from chemicals will lead to gum recession, gingivitis and bone loss (periodontal disease).
- Tooth Lose
- Leukoplakia- Wrinkled white lesions associated with the chemicals of chewing tobacco. It is precancerous with 6% of these lesions becoming cancer.
- Oral Cancer- defined as squamous cell carcinoma of the lip, oral cavity or orapharynx.
Rates of occurrence in the United States- 36,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral or pharyngeal cancer this year. There will be 8,000 deaths= 1 person every 24 hours/day. Out of the 36,000 newly diagnosed, only slightly more than 50% will be alive in 5 years. (May 6, 2010 Oral Cancer Foundation statistic).
- Snus- a moist powder tobacco produced in Sweden. Though the main cancer causing agent (Nitrosamines) are less than in American Snuff, the nicotine is still present and is therefore additive. The pouch of tobacco is small, dissolvable in the mouth over a period of time, and some will say safe to swallow.
- Taboka- pouch tobacco snuff.
- Hooka- smoking tobacco from a water pipe. Increasing number and popularity of Hooka Houses. Many believe hooka smoke is less harmful because smoke passes through water. FALSE
- 11 times more carbon monoxide in hooka smoke.
- 69 different carcinogens in hooka.
- The water will cool the smoke and will cause deeper inhaling.
- The volume of smoke inhaled in one session is 100-200 times the volume of a single cigarette.
- Sharing of mouthpieces will increase risks of passing germs.
- Non-tobacco chews
- Nix-It- Nicotine Spray
- Electronic Cigarettes- vaporized nicotine
- Other product that look like candy or breath-freshener strips- with nicotine.
- Nicotine Patches- Step down- 21mg., 14mg., 7mg.
- Nicotine Gum- 2-4 mg of nicotine
- Join Support Groups
- Talk to your doctor
Free Tobacco cessation information and “on the spot” (7am-9pm) telephone hotline. 1-800-NO-BUTTS
King James in the 1600's called smoking “hateful to the nose, harmful to the brain, and dangerous to the lungs”. For hundreds of years we have ignored the increasing facts on the harms of tobacco. We must quit ignoring the facts.