Young Men's Health

Smokeless Tobacco

 

Have you ever seen a professional baseball player, or even a teammate chewing and spitting in the dugout or on the field? Wonder what they were up to? Despite the lack of actual smoke, smokeless tobacco is just as bad for your health as cigarettes.

 

What is smokeless tobacco?

The most common types of smokeless tobacco in the US are chewing tobacco, "plug", "twist", "snuff", "snus", and dissolvable tobacco products. All of these products are made from tobacco leaves, but they can be used in different ways, have different packaging, and may have added flavoring.

How is smokeless tobacco used?

The various forms of smokeless tobacco are used in different ways.

 

Depending on the product, users may:

Who uses it?

Smokeless tobacco isn't only used by baseball players. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), as many as 20% of high school age guys and 2% of high school age girls use smokeless tobacco. There are between 12 and 14 million people in the US who use it, and more than half of them started before they were 13 years old.

 

What can using smokeless tobacco do to me?

In the short term, you'll have:

Over a longer period of time:

Below are some additional reasons why using smokeless tobacco isn't a good habit:

What if I only chew once in a while? Can't I just stop whenever I want?

Many people don't realize they're addicted, and they think that they can quit using smokeless tobacco anytime they want. Unfortunately, nicotine (the drug in smokeless tobacco and cigarettes) is addictive. There is actually 3-4 times more nicotine in smokeless tobacco than in cigarettes. So even if you only chew once in a while, you're at risk of becoming addicted.

 

What can help me quit using smokeless tobacco?

What else should I know about quitting?

Expect to have cravings when you first quit. However, the worst will be over after 2 weeks. Remember that quitting is hard. If you don't succeed on the first or second try, try again. The chances of success increase with each attempt.

 

If you're concerned about smokeless tobacco, here's a tip on how to bring it up with your health care provider: Do you know a good way to stop dipping?

 

Written by the YMH Staff at Boston Children's Hospital

 

Updated: 3/4/2011

 

Related Guides:

Information About Smoking

You might know that people who have smoked for awhile can eventually get lung cancer, emphysema and other serious illnesses, but do you know about the bad things that smoking can do to you right now?...

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