Facts You Should Know About Smokeless (Spit) Tobacco

Facts You Should Know About Smokeless (Spit) Tobacco

OBob Gold
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:58

30 Jun 2002, 02:01 #1

Facts You Should Know About
Smokeless (Spit) Tobacco

1. Smokeless (spit) tobacco is tobacco that is placed inside the mouth in one of three forms:

Snuff/Snus - ground-up moist tobacco usually placed between the bottom lip and gum. This is also referred to as "dipping".

Chew - shredded tobacco leaves placed between the cheek and gum. This is also referred to as "a wad".

Plug - shredded tobacco leaves which are pressed into a hard block and placed between the cheek and gum.

Ingredients of Smokeless (Spit) Tobacco

Nicotine: Nicotine is a poisonous and highly addictive drug found in all tobacco products - smokeless (spit) tobacco, cigarettes, cigars and pipe tobacco.

Carcinogens:  28 cancer-producing chemicals have been identified in smokeless (spit) tobacco. Nitrosamines are the main carcinogens. [Source: NCI 

Sweeteners: Because tobacco has an unpleasant taste, brands are heavily sweetened with sugars, which promote tooth decay. Flavourings such as mint, licorice or cherry may be added to improve the taste.

Abrasives: Tobacco leaves contain gritty materials that wear down the surfaces of teeth. These materials also scratch the soft tissues in the mouth, allowing the nicotine and other chemicals to get directly into the blood system quicker.

Salt: Flavouring salts found in smokeless (spit) tobacco contribute to abnormal blood pressure and kidney disease.

Other Chemicals: Hundreds of other chemicals can be found in tobacco which contribute to many health problems.

2.  Although far less deadly, smokeless (spit) tobacco is not a safe alternative to smoking. [Source: NCI]   People who dip or chew increase their risk of:

Mouth cancer - in cheeks, gums, lips and tongue. Smokeless (spit) tobacco users have a 50 per cent higher chance of getting gum and cheek cancer than non-users.

Throat and stomach cancer - cancer of the voice box and cancer of the esophagus.

Heart disease - heart attacks, strokes and high blood pressure.
   Nicotine makes the heart pound an average of 12  to 16 beats per minute faster while constricting all cornary arteries attempting to supply oxygen to the heart.  

Dental diseases - stained teeth, tooth decay, receding gums, gum diseases, bad breath and black hairy tongue.

Stomach problems - ulcers, stomach upset and increased bowel activity.

Loss of taste and smell - which causes loss of appetite, and in turn results in poor nutrition and poor health.

Physical changes - fatigue, muscle weakness, dizziness and decreased physical performance.

Reproductivity - Smokeless tobacco use by men causes reduced sperm count and abnormal sperm cells. Smokeless tobacco use during pregnancy increases the risks for preeclampsia (i.e., a condition that may include high blood pressure, fluid retention, and swelling), premature birth, and low birth weight.  [Source: WHO]

Also, they spread germs by spitting, risking infection of others.

3. Smokeless (spit) tobacco is highly addictive.  Addiction means getting hooked to a powerful drug called nicotine.  Nicotine enslaves the same brain dopamine pathways as heroin or cocaine.

Each tin of snuff contains a lethal dose of nicotine (more than 40mg).

Holding an average-sized dip or chew in your mouth for 30 minutes gives you as much nicotine as smoking four cigarettes.

Smokeless (spit) tobacco is absorbed rapidly into the bloodstream through the lining of the mouth.

4. An estimated 70 per cent of all major league baseball players don't chew or dip. Surveys show that two out of three players who use smokeless (spit) tobacco would like to quit! Over half of the players who chew or dip report gum problems and dental diseases.

Recently, both professional baseball (minor leagues) and junior hockey (Western Hockey League) have banned the use of smokeless (spit) tobacco by players, coaches and officials.

Why do some athletes use smokeless (spit) tobacco?

Many try dipping out of curiosity or encouragement from a friend or teammate. In the past, tobacco companies provided free smokeless tobacco (as free advertising) to players and their teams.

It doesn't take long to become hooked. Many find that once they start it's hard to stop.

5. Tobacco harms all users, some more severely than others. Just because someone doesn't have any noticeable side effects from using smokeless (spit) tobacco, it doesn't mean they won't in the future. Often by the time the signs are noticeable, it's too late.

Mouth cancer is very hard to cure and can spread rapidly throughout the body.

Former Chicago Cubs first-baseman Steve Fox chewed tobacco for six years. He developed white patches in his mouth and a sore on his tongue that wouldn't heal. His doctors told him he had cancer. Half of his tongue had to be removed.

Sean Marsee, an Oklahoma track star, started using snuff when he was 12 years old. He died of mouth cancer at the age of 19.

Facts on this page were originally adapted from info provided by the [/font][/size][/b]Government of Saskatchewan 2000 but have since been updated with more recent study findings. 
Last edited by OBob Gold on 08 Apr 2011, 13:45, edited 2 times in total.

OBob Gold
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:58

30 Jun 2002, 02:02 #2

Linda, I took the liberty of giving this it's own post. There are a LOT of nicotine (by chew) addicts out there, (I know quite a few in this neck of the woods) and I think it's important to address some of their specific education needs.

GrumpyOMrsS (Gold)
Joined: 19 Dec 2008, 00:00

30 Jun 2002, 04:36 #4

Hi Bob,

I'm going to add another info sheet on smokeless tobacco as long as you've begun this thread. Also, noticed your referrence to a bartender who swallowed the smokeless tobacco. That greatly increases the users' chance of both esopheagyl and stomach cancer and an even deadlier combination is alcohol and smokeless tobacco. They are BOTH tremendous irritants to the soft tissues that line the digestive tract, beginning with the mouth and when used in combination, almost a surefire setup for trouble. Many of these cancers do NOT show up until later in life whether the addicted person is still using at that time or not. So getting off and staying off this way of supplying nicotine is important to do as soon as possible.

It is interesting.....the drug chain I work for, and it is one of the three largest in the US, carries cigarettes, cigars and other smoking accessories, but does NOT carry smokeless tobacco, at least not here in Ohio. I do know that the tobacco space behind the front registers is completely funded by the tobacco companies and they check that space out once a week to make sure that their product is displayed accurately. Perhaps the smokeless company chose not to pay the price but we as addicts will pay the highest price of all if we chose to not heed Joel's warning and take another puff, or dip, or whatever.

What Is Spit Tobacco?[/b][/color][/size][/font]

There are two forms of spit tobacco: chewing tobacco and snuff. Chewing tobacco is usually sold as leaf tobacco (packaged in a pouch) or plug tobacco (in brick form) and both are put between the cheek and gum. Users keep chewing tobacco in their mouths for several hours to get a continuous high from the nicotine in the tobacco.

Snuff is a powdered tobacco (usually sold in cans) that is put between the lower lip and the gum. Just a pinch is all that's needed to release the nicotine, which is then swiftly absorbed into the bloodstream, resulting in a quick high. Sounds ok, right? Not exactly, keep reading.

What's in Spit Tobacco?

Chemicals. Keep in mind that the spit tobacco you or your friends are putting into your mouths contains many chemicals that can have a harmful effect on your health. Here are a few of the ingredients found in spit tobacco:

Polonium 210 (nuclear waste)
N-Nitrosamines (cancer-causing)
Formaldehyde (embalming fluid)
Nicotine (addictive drug)
Cadium (used in car batteries)
Lead (nerve poison)

The chemicals contained in chew or snuff are what make you high. They also make it very hard to quit. Why? Every time you use smokeless tobacco your body adjusts to the amount of tobacco needed to get that high. Then you need a little more tobacco to get the same feeling. You see, your body gets used to the chemicals you give it. Pretty soon you'll need more smokeless tobacco, more often or you'll need stronger spit tobacco to reach the same level. This process is called addiction.

Some people say spit tobacco is ok because there's no smoke, like a cigarette has. Don't believe them. It's not a safe alternative to smoking. You just move health problems from your lungs to your mouth.

Physical and Mental Effects

If you use spit tobacco, here's what you might have to look forward to:

Cancer. Cancer of the mouth (including the lip, tongue, and cheek) and throat. Cancers most frequently occur at the site where tobacco is held in the mouth.

Leukoplakia. Whoa, what's this? When you hold tobacco in one place in your mouth, your mouth becomes irritated by the tobacco juice. This causes a white, leathery like patch to form, and this is called leukoplakia. These patches can be different in size, shape, and appearance. They are also considered pre-cancerous. If you find one in your mouth, see your doctor immediately!

Heart disease. The constant flow of nicotine into your body causes many side effects including: increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, and sometimes irregular heart beats (this leads to a greater risk of heart attacks and strokes). Nicotine in the body also causes constricted blood vessels which can slow down reaction time and cause dizziness, not a good move if you play sports.

Gum and tooth disease. Spit tobacco permanently discolors teeth. Chewing tobacco causes halitosis (BAD BREATH). Its direct and repeated contact with the gums causes them to recede, which can cause your teeth to fall out. Spit tobacco contains a lot of sugar which, when mixed with the plaque on your teeth, forms acid that eats away at tooth enamel, causes cavities, and chronic painful sores.

Social effects. The really bad breath, discolored teeth, gunk stuck in your teeth, and constant spitting can have a very negative effect on your social and love life.

An even more serious effect of spit tobacco is oral cancer, and the surgery for this could lead to removal of parts of your face, tongue, cheek or lip.

Early Warning Signs

Check your mouth often, looking closely at the places where you hold the tobacco. See your doctor right away if you have any of the following:
  • a sore that bleeds easily and doesn't heal
  • a lump or thickening anywhere in your mouth or neck
  • soreness or swelling that doesn't go away
  • a red or white patch that doesn't go away
  • trouble chewing, swallowing, or moving your tongue or jaw
  • even if you don't find a problem today, see your doctor or dentist >every three months to have your mouth checked. Your chances for a cure are higher if oral cancer is found early.

©2002 American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery One Prince St., Alexandria, VA 22314-3357, 1-703-836-4444
Last edited by GrumpyOMrsS (Gold) on 08 Apr 2011, 13:00, edited 1 time in total.

OBob Gold
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:58

17 Aug 2002, 07:50 #5

Someone mentioned chew today. Thought it was a good time to surface this one. Different delivery device, same addictive drug, equivalent health consequences...

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:59

17 Aug 2002, 09:38 #6

Thank you for this info -- I printed it and plan to give it to my nephew tomorrow. I really had no idea about the dangers of chewing tobacco. What I do know is that he has this nasty habit of leaving spitting cups in my view and it's disgusting. I guess people said the same thing about my ashtrays!!

2W 21H

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:59

19 Aug 2002, 08:40 #7

I printed all the threads from this post and gave them to my nephew yesterday. I am happy to report that he just called me and said he threw out all of his chewing tobacco and armed himself with sunflower seeds. He's going to try to quit!



wcsdancer (Gold)
Joined: 19 Dec 2008, 00:29

26 Jan 2003, 10:28 #8

Bob, I'm really not trying to be funny, I take this very seriously! My neighbor lost half of his face from cancer caused by "chew". He never smoked a day in his life. He WAS a very handsome guy. If lung cancer doesn't scare someone away from nicotine then seeing someone destroyed by smokeless tobacco certainly will. And hopefully lurkers will find this thread and learn from the info you and Linda have posted along with Sean's tragic story. Thanks for reaching out in a direction surprising to some.... but not to those living on my street, home to the "man with half a face". *Candy* 
Last edited by wcsdancer (Gold) on 08 Apr 2011, 13:02, edited 1 time in total.

Joined: 07 Jan 2009, 19:05

04 Jul 2003, 01:11 #9

Glad to see this one surface. My 23 yr old son thought he was the coolest "cowboy" around with his wad of garbage in his mouth. If he wasn't dipping, he was smoking. If you think overflowing ashtrays are disgusting, try finding spit cups and bottles all over the place.

I'm proud to say he has finally given it all up. Why? You'll love this one......he met a girl..... need I say more? It's not enough for parents, family, friends to say, "you stink". But find the girl of your dreams and there's some powerful motivation!! The girl is no longer around but his quit is strong. Here's an interesting tidbit for us nictoine addicts. The boy said giving up his dip was much, much harder than giving up the smokes. He replaced the oral need with gum, which helped keep his mouth cleaner. Now he brushes and flosses like a pro and treats his body as the temple it is. I'm so pleased he came to his senses. Now he tells me how his mouth stayed tender and sore, his teeth felt loose, food didn't taste "normal".

Please, please keep talking to any youngsters who think dipping is safe. My son has told me the many talks we had on smoking, nicotine and other drug addictions did make a difference--even when I wasn't setting a good example.

Thank goodness for Joel and a forum like Freedom.

OBob Gold
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:58

24 Jul 2003, 18:33 #10

Last edited by OBob Gold on 09 Apr 2011, 01:20, edited 2 times in total.