Quitting smokeless tobacco

Published 10:13 pm Thursday, February 18, 2010

A little pinch between your teeth and gums, as the smokeless tobacco commercial goes, could be deadly.

The National Cancer Institute points out the two types of smokeless tobacco, chewing tobacco and snuff, contain 28 cancer-causing agents. For example the TSNAs, tobacco-specific nitrosamines, form during the growing, curing, fermenting and aging of tobacco. Other cancer-causing agents include formaldehyde, arsenic, nickel, cadmium. These cancer-causing agents can result in oral cancer, which includes cancer of the lip, tongue, cheeks, gums and the floor and roof of the mouth. People who use oral snuff for a long time are at greater risk for cancer of the cheek and gum than people who do not use smokeless tobacco.

So you’re not afraid of cancer because cancer can strike just about anybody. OK. That little pinch of smokeless tobacco is gross. Research shows the use of smokeless tobacco can lead to other oral problems, such as mouth sores and tooth decay. Smokeless tobacco causes bad breath and discoloration of teeth and receding gums.

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Studies show in Alabama 20.2 percent of male high school students use smokeless or spit tobacco. That’s frightening considering the amount of nicotine absorbed from smokeless tobacco is three-to-four times the amount a person receives from smoking a cigarette. Nicotine is absorbed more slowly from smokeless tobacco than cigarettes, but the user of the smokeless tobacco receives more nicotine per does. Research also shows nicotine from smokeless tobacco stays in the bloodstream longer.

This is “Through with Chew Week,” an effort by the Dallas County Health Department and Strategic Alliance for Health to draw attention to the dangers of smokeless tobacco.

It’s time to quit the chew or dip. For help call the Alabama Tobacco Quitline at 800-784-8669.