Many tobacco users have the idea that chewing tobacco is a safer option than smoking. While it may not come with the carcinogens found in cigarette smoke, choosing to chew tobacco can result in serious health problems too. If you’re thinking about switching to chewing tobacco or you already chew tobacco, it’s important to be aware of the facts and effects of chewing this smokeless tobacco. Here’s a closer look at the facts, the negative effects of this type of smokeless tobacco, and some helpful tips for quitting.
What Is Chewing Tobacco? *
Chewing tobacco is one type of smokeless tobacco that is used by placing a piece of it between the gum and cheek or between the teeth and cheek and it may be chewed from time to time. It’s different from dipping tobacco, which is ground, which means that chew must be crushed manually with the teeth in order to release nicotine and flavor. Any unwanted juices that are created are usually spit out. A portion of the chewing tobacco is often referred to as a chew, wad, or plug.
Common Chewing Tobacco Brands *
Many different types of chewing tobacco brands are available today, from large, well-known brands to smaller, more exclusive brands. Here’s a look at some of the most common brands of chew.
- Copenhagen – Copenhagen is a more expensive, premium brand of chewing tobacco and is one of the most expensive options. Made by U.S. Smokeless, it’s available in long cut and comes in various flavors, including natural and bourbon.
- Redman – Redman is a reasonably priced dip that is a bit dry. It’s available in straight, natural, and wintergreen.
- Skoal – Skoal is one of the top brands of chew and comes in fine and long cuts. Popular flavors include wintergreen, straight, and apple.
- Timberwolf – This is a budget-friendly choice that won’t break the bank, which makes it a common choice. Peach, apple, cool wintergreen, mint, and straight are popular flavors.
Other available chewing tobacco brands include:
- Red Seal
- Blood Hound
- Southern Pride
- Bull of the Woods
- Big Mountain
- Apple Jack
- King B Twist
- Taylor’s Pride
- Brown’s Mule
- Byron Allisons Chewing Co
- Levi Garrett
- Olive Twist
- Big Chief
- Cotton Boll
- Mail pouch
- WB Extra Long
Chewing Tobacco Facts *
Some of the facts surrounding chewing tobacco are very surprising. For example, 3.5% of individuals over the age of 12 report using smokeless tobacco products, such as chew. The scary thing is that 46% of new smokeless tobacco users were under the age of 18 when they first started using it. In fact, 15% of high school boys say that they use smokeless tobacco products.
Why are so many young people using chew? It’s thought that the flavorings and sweeteners in these products make them appealing to younger individuals. Some of the other factors that may result in young people using tobacco products like chew include:
- Local economic conditions
- Examples set by school staff and teachers
- Examples that are set by the youth’s parents
- Local fashions and lifestyles
- Peer pressure
- Use of alcohol and illegal drugs
Another of the important chewing tobacco facts to be aware of is that these products contain multiple harmful chemicals. Not only do smokeless tobacco products contain as many as 28 carcinogens, they are known to have levels of tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNAs) that are extremely high. These TSNAs are very potent carcinogens that are found in snuff, tobacco smokes, and chewing tobacco. Some of the other substances found in smokeless tobacco products that are known to cause cancer include:
- Radioactive polonium-210
The use of chewing tobacco and other smokeless tobacco products is higher in specific states. According to Be Tobacco Free, the three states within the U.S. that have the highest use of smokeless tobacco products are Wyoming, Western Virginia, and Mississippi.
The Effects of Chewing Tobacco *
Although some evidence shows that forms of smokeless tobacco may not be as dangerous as cigarettes, using chewing tobacco long term can result in serious health problems. Chewing tobacco contains many cancer causing substances, as well as nicotine, which can result in addiction. Here’s a closer look at some of the serious chewing tobacco effects that should be considered by users.
- Addiction – One of the main negative effects of chewing tobacco is addiction. Since nicotine is found in smokeless tobacco products, addiction can occur. The body has the ability to absorb as much or more nicotine from using chew as it does if you smoke cigarettes. If you stop using chew, withdrawal can occur. The addiction to nicotine makes chew users more likely to become addicted to cigarettes as well.
- Cancer – Using chew or other types of smokeless tobacco also increase your risk for developing certain types of cancer. Chew users may have a higher risk for the following types of cancer:
- Pancreatic cancer
- Esophageal cancer
- Mouth cancers (lip, gums, cheek, tongue, and throat)
- Oral Health Problems – If you chew tobacco, you also have a higher risk for oral health problems. Chew contains large amounts of sugar, which can result in cavities. Course particles found in chew may also scratch away tooth enamel and irritate the gums, making teeth more vulnerable to decay. Irritants and sugars in smokeless tobacco products may also make the gums pull away from teeth, resulting in gum disease. Over time, gum disease may result in tooth loss as well.
Some of the other effects of using chew and other forms of smokeless tobacco include:
- An increased risk for stroke and heart disease
- Increased risk for stillbirth and early delivery in pregnant women
- The occurrence of leukoplakia within the mouth
How to Quit Chewing Tobacco *
You already know how to chew tobacco, but how do you quit the habit? Nicotine is very addictive, and since smokeless tobacco products put even more nicotine into your bloodstream, some people find that it’s harder to quit chew than it is to quit smoking cigarettes. If you’re ready to quit, here are a few helpful tips to keep in mind.
- Tip #1 – Make the Decision to Quit – First, you need to make a decision that you are going to quit. Know why you want to quit. Focus on what you don’t like about chewing. Some great reasons to quit chew include:
- To eliminate sores in the mouth
- To avoid oral cancer and other cancers
- To start saving money
- To reduce oral health problems
- To prove to yourself you can do it
- To ensure a product isn’t controlling you
- Tip #2 – Choose Your Quit Date – If you’re going to quit, you need to choose a quit date. Don’t put it off or it will get harder.
- Tip #3 – Start Cutting Down – Start preparing yourself for quitting by cutting down on the amount of chew that you use. This will make it a bit easier to quit.
- Tip #4 – Talk to Your Doctor – You may need some help as you quit. Talk to your doctor about nicotine patches, nicotine gum and other helpful aids that may make quitting easier for you.
- Tip #5 – Expect Some Withdrawal Symptoms – As you quit, you’re sure to experience some withdrawal symptoms. Some of the common nicotine withdrawal symptoms include:
- More sores in the mouth
- Difficulty sleeping
- Brain fog
- Food cravings
- Sore throat
- Tip #6 – Have a Support Team – Let your family members, friends, and others know that you plan to quit chewing tobacco. Create a good support team that will help you out as you work hard to kick this habit.