Smokeless Tobacco Facts and Finding the Best Smokeless Tobacco Alternative
We all know that chewing tobacco has many health risks, but something that many people don’t realize is that the dangers of chewing tobacco go far beyond oral cancer. What are all the health hazards of chewing tobacco and why did we start dipping in the first place? Here are some smokeless tobacco facts and tips on finding the best smokeless tobacco alternative to help you quit dipping, or help you convince your loved one to quit chewing tobacco for good.
Why Did We Start Chewing Tobacco
Long before Blake Shelton sang, “Chew tobacco, chew tobacco, chew tobacco, spit” in his country music hit “Boys ’Round Here,” people have been habitually dipping and chewing smokeless tobacco to catch a nicotine buzz. Although Shelton told 60 Minutes that lyric is “striking a nerve” because “it’s just fun” – many chewers and dippers trying to find a way to quit the habit might not be laughing.
The fact is, chewing tobacco isn’t sexy. Given that it’s so difficult to kick the habit, why did we start in the first place?
Originally in the US, chewing tobacco was introduced to European settlers by the Native Americans who would “chew” green tobacco leaves. At the time, they thought chewing tobacco could cure multiple health problems – including toothaches, ironically. Today we know it’s not so good for your teeth, gums and other parts of your body to chew tobacco.
Different Types of Smokeless Tobacco
Smokeless tobacco (aka dip, chew or snuff) can come in different forms including loose leaves, pouches, and powdered snuff. Smokeless tobacco is marketed in many different flavors by various brands including Copenhagen, Grizzly, and Skoal. Users place a large wad of it inside their cheek for several hours, which allows the mouth tissue to absorb the tobacco (a bulging cheek is a dead giveaway.)
Chewing Tobacco Is Not a Safe Alternative to Smoking
A big myth about chewing tobacco is that it is a safe alternative to smoking cigarettes or cigars. This isn’t really true. While smokeless tobacco users run a lower risk of lung cancer than smokers do, they run a much higher risk of oral cancer. Smokeless tobacco is the number one cause of mouth cancer according to the Mouth Cancer Foundation.
What Does Smokeless Tobacco Do to Your Body?
- Oral cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, dip users are at risk of mouth, tongue, cheek, gum and lip cancer. Mouth cancer can be beaten after lots of treatment if it is caught early. However, if cancer has already spread, then there is roughly a 60% chance of survival. Early signs of cancer include the change in voice or continuous cough, red or white patches in your mouth, and numbing or tingling sensations in your tongue. If you notice any of these signs and are a chewing tobacco user, you should go see your doctor.
- Other cancers. Many other cancers including breast cancer; cancers of the pharynx, larynx and esophagus and cardiovascular disease have been linked to chewing tobacco.
- Nicotine dependence. Most people don’t know that nicotine levels in smokeless tobacco are even higher than cigarette tobacco. Nicotine addiction can lead to an artificially increased heart rate and blood pressure.
- Tooth abrasion. Grit and sand found in smokeless tobacco products scratch teeth and wear away the enamel.
- Gum recession and disease. Chewing tobacco can cause gum recession, gum disease, tooth decay, and tooth loss.
- Increased tooth decay. When the gums are recessed and pull away from the teeth, food can become trapped in the pockets between the teeth and the gums causing both tooth decay and gum infections.
How Many People Use Smokeless Tobacco
In spite of everything we know today about the negative effects of chewing tobacco, the number of chewing tobacco users is still high.
Although the number of Americans who smoke cigarettes has significantly reduced over time, the overall use of smokeless tobacco has remained mostly unchanged since 2002. In 2014, an estimated 8.7 million people aged 12 or older used smokeless tobacco in the past month; and around 1.0 million people aged 12 or older used smokeless tobacco for the first time in the past year.
Why are people quitting their smoking habits, but continuing to chew tobacco?
The fact is, there’s not a lot of focus on prevention of smokeless tobacco use in tobacco-free initiatives. Plus big tobacco has ramped up marketing efforts for smokeless tobacco products, by advertising them as alternatives to cigarettes in places where smoking is banned. From 1998 to 2011, the top five smokeless tobacco companies in the U.S. more than tripled total advertising and marketing expenditures. Smokeless tobacco manufacturers have also increased the addictiveness of the product by changing free nicotine levels.
In the US, smokeless tobacco users are most commonly white males, with the highest concentration of users residing in Wyoming, West Virginia, Arkansas and Montana.
A recent survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that the use of smokeless tobacco among youth has held steady since 1999. In 2013, 14.7 percent of high-school boys reported current use of smokeless tobacco products.
How to Quit Dipping – Finding the Best Smokeless Tobacco Alternative
The best thing to do, of course, is quit. People who stop using tobacco can greatly reduce their risk of oral cancer and other related health issues.
Fortunately, there are many alternatives to smokeless tobacco available today to help people quit chewing tobacco.
Tobacco-free pouches, such as TeaZa, are the best smokeless alternatives to help people quit chewing tobacco. TeaZa has been proven by independent research to help people quit dipping. TeaZa helps mimic the mouthfeel and lip burn smokeless tobacco users crave. Because TeaZa Tobacco-Free Pouches are formulated by a physician with natural ingredients, they are the best tobacco-free, nicotine-free alternative to smokeless tobacco. Compared to other smokeless tobacco alternative pouches, TeaZa is preferred for its long-lasting flavor, superior nutrition profile and proven results.
Ready to Quit Chewing Tobacco?
If you’re ready to quit chewing tobacco, check out our resources to quit chewing tobacco!