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.