Posts Tagged smokeless tobacco dangers
Administrators at the University of California, San Diego are making a move to ban smoking, as well as the use of electronic cigarettes and other smokeless tobacco products, on campus beginning September 1, 2013. The new policy is in line with the university’s total ban on all tobacco products for all campuses by January 2014.
UCSD administrators explain that the policy is aimed at saving lives, improving the environment, and contributing positively to the health and well-being of everyone on the campus. And rather than being punitive, the university will be focusing more on educating all students, faculty, staff, and parents and visitors about the need to develop healthy habits.
But while the new policy is well-intentioned, Chase Donnally, president of UCSD Young Americans for Liberty, told Campus Reform that many UCSD students are likely to ignore the ban, saying it’s “less about student health and more about controlling student behavior.”
“E-cigarettes are a quitting method,” Donnally said. “They’re not something you start doing; they’re something that you do in order to quit, and if they really cared about student health, it seems like those would be allowed.”
Smokeless tobacco products, also known as smoking cessation therapy, are viewed by many smokers as a safe way to quit smoking. Recent statistics show there are approximately 10 million users of smokeless tobacco, 3 million of which are people younger than 21. However, public health officials say these products are not without some dangers. Even though nicotine replacement products, such as snuff or chewing tobacco, contain very small amounts of nicotine they are still believed to increase one’s risk for oral cancer, nicotine addiction, and gum disease.
Smokeless tobacco is making quite a noise because of the way it’s being marketed — safer alternative to cigarettes.
Statistics estimated that of the 10 million smokeless tobacco users, 3 million are below the age of 21. Of these young users, about 25 percent began using smokeless tobacco products in 6th grade and the remaining 75 percent started during 9th grade.
As far back as 1986, the U.S. Surgeon General already declared that the use of smokeless tobacco “is not a safe substitute for smoking cigarettes.” In fact, it can cause cancer and some non-cancerous conditions, as well as lead to nicotine addiction and dependence. Still, an alarming number of smokeless tobacco users continue to exist and grow.
To help correct the popular notion that such products are harmless, various anti-smoking advocates and health associations have been issuing news releases that highlight the effects of using smokeless tobacco. But in addition to understanding what smokeless tobacco is about and how the products negatively affect users, it’s important to know the different forms in which they are available.
According to Mayo Clinic, the different types of smokeless tobacco available in the United States are:
Chewing Tobacco: This type of smokeless tobacco is available in loose leaf, plug (plug-firm and plug-moist), or twist forms. The user puts a wad of the tobacco between his/her cheek and gum and hold it there, sometimes for hours at a time.
Snuff: This is a finely ground or shredded tobacco leaves available in dry or moist forms, and s packaged in tins or tea-bag-like pouches. The user places a pinch of snuff between his/her lower lip and gum or cheek and gum. Dry forms of this smokeless tobacco product are sometimes sniffed into the nose by other users.
Snus: This type of smokeless tobacco originated in Sweden. Snus typically comes in a pouch that a user can stick between his/her upper lip and gum — leaving it there for about a half-hour without having to spit, then discard it.
Dissolvable Tobacco: As the name suggests, this type melts in the mouth, thereby, eliminating the need to spit tobacco juices. They are sometimes called tobacco lozenges but they are not the same as the nicotine lozenges used to help you quit smoking. They come as pieces of compressed powdered tobacco, like that of small hard candies.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is seeking public comments regarding possible changes to smokeless tobacco product warnings.
Interested persons may submit their written comments via http://www.regulations.gov/ by April 1, 2013. The FDA is interested in comments, supported by scientific evidence, regarding what changes, if any, can be made to the warning labels on smokeless tobacco products, including moist snuff, chewing tobacco, and snus.
The Smokeless Tobacco Act requires that smokeless tobacco product packages and advertising must bear one of four required warning statements, such as:
- WARNING: This product can cause mouth cancer.
- WARNING: This product can cause gum disease and tooth loss.
- WARNING: This product is not a safe alternative to cigarettes.
- WARNING: Smokeless tobacco is addictive.
According to a news release, the warning for smokeless tobacco packaging must be located on the two principal sides of the package and cover at least 30 percent of each side. For advertisements, the warning must cover at least 20 percent of the area of the ad.
The new warning labels must begin to rotate in advertising for smokeless tobacco products beginning on June 22, 2010, and must be distributed and displayed on the packaging of smokeless tobacco products manufactured on or after June 22, 2010.
Starting July 22, 2010, manufacturers may not distribute any smokeless tobacco product unless its packaging complies with the new warning requirements.
These changes aim to increase awareness of the health risks associated with smokeless tobacco use.
Based on a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some Americans certainly are not giving up on their tobacco habit, regardless of all the warnings regarding health risks associated with tobacco use. The CDC report, which was published in the November 5 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, showed that 20 percent of Americans still smoked cigarettes, according to a feature on WebMD. The report also noted an increase in the use of smokeless tobacco products, such as chewing tobacco and snuff.
The increase in the use of smokeless tobacco, according to Dr. Terry Pechacek, PhD, of the CDC, may be attributed to the fact that there are already laws in place that prohibit smoking in public places. Smokeless tobacco products have become the alternative way to use tobacco; and unlike cigarettes, smokeless tobacco products can be used in the office, and on the job.
There are reportedly tobacco companies that market smokeless tobacco as a substitute for smokers; it is not, however, a way to quit smoking. Pechacek shared: “We are making no progress in getting people to quit smoking… This is a tragedy. Over 400,000 people are dying prematurely and won’t be able to walk their children down the aisle or see their grandchildren.”
According to the CDC report, the use of smokeless tobacco is most prevalent “among men, young adults, those with a high school education or less and in some states with higher smoking rates.” Its use is said to be most common among those belonging to the 18-24 age group.
By now, it is well-known that cigarettes – and smoking – are not good for anyone, and this holds true for both smokers and non-smokers. But is it just the smoking that is bad for you? If you use a smokeless tobacco product instead, will you be in a better place, health-wise?
We have talked about two types of smokeless tobacco products in previous posts: snuff and chewing tobacco. There is another smokeless tobacco product that is being deemed as less dangerous as cigarettes, as well as other smokeless tobacco products: snus.
Snus is a smokeless, flavored tobacco product. Like snuff, snus is placed by its users between the cheek and the gum; snus, however, does not make one spit.
In the “danger” hierarchy of tobacco products, cigarettes take the highest spot as the most deadly; a feature on WebMD shared that a lot of the most dangerous by-products of cigarettes are generated in the burning process.
While smokeless tobacco products bypass this process because their use does not necessitate burning, these products nonetheless pose other dangers that also do not bode well for a person’s health and well-being. As mentioned in a previous post, smokeless tobacco use increases one’s risk for developing oral cancer, which includes cancer of the lip, tongue, cheeks, gums, and the floor and roof of the mouth, as well as pancreatic and esophageal cancer.
Smokeless tobacco products contain cancer-causing chemicals called nitrosamines, and deliver more of these than cigarettes. Snus delivers less nitrosamines when compared to snuff, but its nitrosamine levels are still higher than what is acceptable. It is, therefore, still not safe.
For most people, tobacco use is automatically associated with smoking such tobacco products as cigarettes. Smoking, however, is not the only way that tobacco is used.
A fact sheet from the National Cancer Institute talks about smokeless tobacco and its link to various health issues.
Smokeless tobacco has two types: snuff, which consists of finely ground or shredded tobacco that is packaged as dry, moist, or in tea-bag like pouches; and chewing tobacco, which is available in loose leaf, plug or twist forms.
Snuff users typically places a pinch or dip of the tobacco between the cheek and gum. Those who use chewing tobacco, on the other hand, place a wad of tobacco inside the cheek. Smokeless tobacco is also called “spit” or “spitting” tobacco, because users spit out the tobacco juices and saliva that build up in the mouth.
Smokeless tobacco contains 28 carcinogens, according to the NCI. The most harmful are tobacco–specific nitrosamines (TSNAs), which are formed during the growing, curing, fermenting and aging of tobacco.
Users of snuff and chewing tobacco have an increased risk for oral cancer, which includes cancer of the lip, tongue, cheeks, gums, and the floor and roof of the mouth. The NCI shared that people who user oral snuff for an extended period of time have a much higher risk of developing cancer of the cheek and gum when compared to those who do not use smokeless tobacco.
Aside from cancer, the use of smokeless tobacco can lead to other health concerns such as addiction to nicotine, oral leukoplakia, and gum disease.