Smokeless Tobacco Prevention

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Facts:

  • The average starting age for a Texas teen using smokeless tobacco is 13.
    Source: Texas School Survey of Substance Using Among Students
  • 4% of Texas adults use smokeless tobacco, yet 8% of Texas youth use it.
    Source: BRFSS Survey; 2006 Youth Tobacco Survey
  • Adolescents who use smokeless tobacco are more likely to become cigarette smokers.
    Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
  • Dippers may be exposed to more cancer-causing chemicals than a one-pack-a-day cigarette smoker, based on the higher nicotine levels per serving in smokeless tobacco.
    Source: American Legacy Foundation
  • Regardless of its form — whether smokeless or cigarettes — all tobacco contains nicotine, which is highly addictive.
    Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Other facts about smokeless tobacco:

  • Chewing and dipping cause receding gums, wear on tooth enamel, and tooth decay, resulting in the potential loss of teeth.
  • Switching from cigarettes to smokeless tobacco is not a safe alternative.

What Causes the Damage?

Chewing tobacco and the resulting juices may produce leukoplakia, which is white patches of oral tissue that can develop into oral cancer. Three to five percent of diagnosed leukoplakias have the potential to become oral cancers.

Forms of smokeless tobacco contain high concentrations of certain carcinogens (cancer-causing agents), which increase the risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, larynx and esophagus.

Other Problems

The nicotine from tobacco is absorbed into the bloodstream through the lining of the mouth and can be addicting. Sugar is present in smokeless tobacco to improve taste and aides in the development of tooth decay. Diabetics should be aware of this to better control their diabetes.

Smokeless tobacco is used by many athletes, but what they probably don't know is that the nicotine in the smokeless tobacco increases the heart rate and blood pressure and can lead to an irregular heartbeat. These factors could affect their athletic performance. A rise in blood pressure may also increase the risk of strokes and heart attacks.

Smokeless tobacco is unattractive. Tobacco or snuff, placed between the cheek and gum, causes an increased amount of saliva, which results in frequent spitting or swallowing. It also causes bad breath and stained teeth.

For more information on the effects of smokeless tobacco, talk with your doctor or dentist.

Other resources:
http://SpitItOutTexas.org/
American Cancer Society

Last updated March 10, 2011