Harm caused by smokeless tobacco

Blog Post created by dr_hurt on Jun 10, 2008

A number of articles have been published about the relative harm caused by smokeless tobacco (which includes chewing tobacco and snuff) compared with cigarettes, and new brands of smokeless tobacco are being marketed by the tobacco industry to promote smokeless tobacco use.

While not causing the same degree of health problems as cigarettes, smokeless tobacco is not a safe alternative to smoking. The use of smokeless tobacco may cause a number of health problems including, but not limited to, erosion of the teeth, damage to the gums, and cancer of the mouth, throat, pancreas, and kidney. A large study recently found that men who switched from cigarettes to smokeless tobacco were more likely to die from heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer compared to those who stopped tobacco altogether. Additionally, people who switched from cigarettes to chewing tobacco were more likely to go back to smoking.

People who are addicted to smokeless tobacco should stop and can do so by using many of the same behavioral tools and medications that help smokers stop. If you are planning to quit chewing the becomeanex program can help. Replace the words ‘cigarette’ or ‘smoking’ with ‘spit tobacco’ and ‘chewing.’ Use the tools on the website to help build your motivation to quit. Developing a plan to address your triggers, re-learning how to live your life without tobacco, and talking to your health-care provider about medications can help you stop. Being tobacco free is the healthy goal for anybody who uses tobacco whether they are chewing, dipping, or smoking.

Dr. Richard D. Hurt is an internationally recognized expert on tobacco dependence. A native of Murray, Kentucky, he joined Mayo Clinic in 1976 and is now a Professor of Medicine at its College of Medicine. In 1988, he founded the Mayo Clinic Nicotine Dependence Center and since then its staff has treated over 33,000 patients for tobacco dependence. Send your questions directly to Dr. Hurt at AskTheExpert@becomeanex.org