The Deadly Truth of Smokeless Tobacco

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The fight to change the cultural cognizance on smoking tobacco from the portrayed positive aspect to its lethal reality has been a long yet successfully journey. Now more than ever the idea of smoking cigarettes is a taboo. Even victims of cigarette smokers feel compelled to declare this addiction as malignant. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “among current U.S. adult cigarette smokers, 68.8% report that they want to quit completely”.  We are ecstatic to see cigarette usage at an all-time low for Leon County; as low as 12.1% for Adults 18-44 years old. However, the fight has only just begun. Smokeless tobacco has been around for ages and is a part of many social groups. While cigarettes usage has plummeted, smokeless tobacco continues to thrive and now emerges into this generation with new appealing products and tactics.

Smokeless tobacco is defined as tobacco that is chewed or snuffed rather than smoked. There are about six different types of smokeless tobacco products. The most commonly known smokeless tobacco in the U.S is Chewing tobacco; where the   tobacco is placed between the teeth and gum and chewed. Snuff, is a type of smokeless tobacco that is sniffed in a moist or dry form. Dip, is moist snuff used in the same fashion as chewing tobacco. Snus is a small pouch of moist snuff. Gutka is a combination of tobacco, betel leaf, areca nut, and slaked lime; this product is highly popular in the India and Asian regions. Lastly, there are dissolvable tobacco products like lozenges, orbs, sticks, and strips. These products are ever more popular because they can be used discreetly. They do not require spitting making them more attractive to young people.

Youth usage of smokeless tobacco is substantial. According to the CDC, 3.5% of Florida middle school students and 5.9% of high school students have used smokeless tobacco at least once during the past 30 days.  Studies also find that adolescents who use smokeless tobacco are more likely to become cigarette smokers.

Smokeless tobacco is misleadingly associated as a healthier alternative since users aren’t actually smoking the product. The many misconceptions and myths that surround smokeless tobacco is what make its use ever more deadly. Smokeless tobacco still leads to nicotine addiction, cancers, early delivery and still birth, diseases of the mouth, and contains 28 cancer-causing agents. 8 to 10 dips a day is equivalent to 30 to 40 cigarettes a day. Smokeless tobacco needs widespread public attention, just as cigarette smoking has received. The time is now for us to educate the masses on smokeless tobacco and continue to propel the campaign against harms of tobacco within our society. What are some ways you’ve helped educate others of the negative consequences of smokeless tobacco?


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Author: Stephana Henry

Stephana Henry is a Tobacco Prevention Specialist assistant. She currently is a Philosophy student minoring in Law at the Florida A&M University. Through her work and research with the Tobacco Prevention Program, Stephana plans to take this valuable experience with her into Law School; where she will be studying International Policy Affairs.

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