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Smoking and Tobacco

Is smokeless tobacco safe? (copenhagen)

09/16/2004

Question:

My husband quit smoking , his mom asked him to on her deathbed in feb 03. but he now uses smokeless tobacco a lot....he always used it but since quiting smoking he really uses it( 3-4 cans a week ) i think it is as bad as smoking, is it? is there anything i could tell him because he is definately still getting nicotine, and lots of it.

Answer:

You are correct, your husband is still getting nicotine. If you hold an average size dip or chew in your mouth for 30 minutes, you get as much nicotine as you do from about 3 cigarettes, according to the National Cancer Institute. Because smokeless tobacco contains nicotine, it is addictive just like cigarettes. Some health problems that smokeless tobacco can cause are gum recession (when the gums fall away from the teeth), sores, white patches, red patches or lumps inside the mouth (which are basically signs of damage that has been done to tissues) and oral cancer which includes cancers of the mouth, parts of the throat and pharynx or voice box. Research does show that users of smokeless tobacco are at four times the risk of developing oral cancer than non-users. Hypertension (high blood pressure), heart diseases, ulcers, bad breath, and tooth stains are all negative effects of smokeless tobacco as well.

Since smokeless tobacco has nicotine in it, which is addictive, many of the resources available to help people stop smoking can be used for individuals wanting to quit using smokeless tobacco as well. There might be a stronger need for oral substitutes to take the place of the chew or snuff. There are even products like non-nicotine mint chew that smokeless tobacco users might want to consider. It would probably be a good idea for your husband to talk with his physician or dentist to check for any lesions, give him advice and help him develop a quit plan. It is important for individuals who are trying to quit tobacco use to have encouragement, information on how to learn skills to deal with quitting (and staying quit) and nicotine replacement therapy if necessary. It can be very difficult to break the addiction, however, there are methods available to assist people with cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

The two websites listed below are specific to smokeless tobacco. They are both great resources that provide information about smokeless tobacco, benefits of quitting and methods to help people quit. Keep mind it is always best to consult your physician before using any of the nicotine replacement therapies.

Related Resources:

Smokeless Tobacco (MedlinePlus)
Quitting Smokeless Tobacco (American Cancer Society)

For more information:

Go to the Smoking and Tobacco health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Kathy Vesha, RN, BSN, MA
Formerly:
Kick It!
The James
The Ohio State University