What is Smokeless Tobacco?
Unlike traditional cigarettes, which you light up and smoke, smokeless tobacco is chewed and discarded after sucking the essence out of the moist bits. Smokeless tobacco is also known as snuff, dip, pinch, chew or spit tobacco. It doesn't need combustion to deliver the nicotine to the user.
In the United States, the main types of smokeless tobacco are:
Chewing tobacco. This consists of loose tobacco leaves that are sweetened and packaged in pouches. You put a wad of the tobacco between your cheek and gum and hold it there, sometimes for hours at a time. It's also called chew and chaw. Usually you spit out the tobacco juices, but if you're more addicted, you tend to swallow some of the juices.
Plug. This is chewing tobacco that has been pressed into a brick shape, often with the help of syrup, such as molasses, which also sweetens the tobacco. You cut off or bite off a piece of the plug and hold it between your cheek and gum. You spit out the tobacco juices.
Twist. This is flavored chewing tobacco that has been braided and twisted into rope-like strands. You hold it between your cheek and gum and spit out the tobacco juices.
Snuff. This is finely ground or shredded tobacco leaves. It's available in dry or moist forms and is packaged in tins or tea bag-like pouches. A pinch of snuff is placed between the lower lip and gum or cheek and gum. Dry forms of snuff can be sniffed into the nose. Using snuff is also called dipping. You normally spit out the tobacco juices, but as with chewing tobacco, if you're more addicted you tend to swallow at least some of the juices.
Snus. Snus (pronounced snoos) is a newer smokeless, spitless tobacco product that originated in Sweden. It comes in a pouch that you stick between your upper lip and gum. You leave it there for about a half-hour without having to spit, then discard it.
Dissolvable tobacco products. These are pieces of compressed powdered tobacco, similar to small hard candies. They dissolve in your mouth, requiring no spitting of tobacco juices. They're sometimes called tobacco lozenges, but they're not the same as the nicotine lozenges used to help you quit smoking.
It seems the lack of combustion in smokeless tobacco isn't an assurance that it's safer or healthier than smoking. It turns out that some smokeless products contain the highest amounts of nicotine that can be readily absorbed by the body.
In 1986, the U.S. Surgeon General declared that the use of smokeless tobacco is not a safe substitute for smoking cigarettes. It can cause cancer and a number of noncancerous conditions and can lead to nicotine addiction and dependence. Also, since 1991, the National Cancer Institute has recommended that the public avoid the use of all tobacco products, due to their high levels of nitrosamines.
In a recent study, cancer researchers found that oral tobacco products, including lozenges and moist snuff, are not a good alternative to smoking, since the levels of cancer-causing nitrosamines in smokeless tobacco and lozenges are very high.
Three percent of American adults are smokeless tobacco users. They run the same risks of gum disease, heart disease, and addiction as cigarette users, but an even greater risk of oral cancer. Each year about 30,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral and pharyngeal cancers, and more than 8,000 people die of these diseases. Despite the health risks associated with tobacco use, consumers continue to demand the product. In 2001, the five largest tobacco manufacturers spent $236.7 million on smokeless tobacco advertising and promotion.
What are Smokeless Cigarettes?
It's a good thing that vaping has successfully established itself as a less harmful alternative to smoking in the early part of this new millennium. Dubbed as smokeless cigarettes because they don't depend on combustion to work, the plethora of electronic nicotine delivery systems or ENDS that's been flooding the market are the next best options for smokers who wanted to reduce their nicotine intake and to subsequently quit their smoking habit.
ENDS, including electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes), are handheld devices that produce an aerosol from a solution typically containing nicotine, flavoring chemicals, and carrier solvents such as propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin (glycerol) for inhalation by the user. Wide variability exists in ENDS terminology, product design, and engineering. For the purposes of the current policy statement, the term ENDS encompasses devices that are typically battery operated and produce emissions for inhalation. Alternate names for these products include electronic cigarettes, e-cigarettes, e-cigs, electronic cigars, electronic hookah, e-hookah, hookah sticks, personal vaporizers, mechanical mods, vape pens, and vaping devices.
Although commonly referred to as a vapor, the emission from ENDS is most accurately referred to as an aerosol, which is a suspension of fine particles in a gas. Despite variations in terminology, ENDS products generally have several common components that include a flow sensor, aerosol generator, battery, and solution storage area. When a user draws a breath (or "vapes") from the device, a flow sensor detects the change in pressure and activates the aerosol generator. The generator draws the solution from the storage area and heats and/or mechanically disperses the solution, creating an aerosol. This aerosol is inhaled by the user, who then exhales it.
The American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS) has listed the following ingredients of smokeless tobacco as a warning to consumers:
- Polonium 210 (nuclear waste)
- N-Nitrosamines (cancer-causing)
- Formaldehyde (embalming fluid)
- Nicotine (addictive drug)
- Cadmium (used in batteries and nuclear reactor shields)
- Cyanide (poisonous compound)
- Arsenic (poinsonous metallic element)
- Benzene (used in insecticides and motor fuels)
- Lead (nerve poison)
While it is true that contaminants may be introduced into e-liquid during the manufacturing process, the concentrations these contaminants are present in are of little concern. Utilizing data from over 9,000 observations of e-liquid contents, a Drexel University study found "no evidence that vaping produces inhalable exposures to these contaminants at a level that would prompt measures to reduce exposure by the standards that are used to ensure safety of workplaces."
In effect, even the worst-case scenario based on the data presented from available research would result to a very low or minimal health risk when compared to standard workplace exposure limits.