Most young people do not use smokeless tobacco.
A recent Missouri survey indicates that:
Smokeless tobacco use has short-term physical effects and consequences including:
- Only 14% of high school seniors are current users of smokeless tobacco; of these, one-half are daily users.
- Although two-thirds of senior boys have ever tried smokeless tobacco, only 15% of senior girls have tried it.
- More Missouri males use smokeless tobacco than cigarettes; however, by a large ratio, more Missouri females use cigarettes than smokeless tobacco.
- Smokeless tobacco is used more often in the rural areas than in the urban areas.
- Of those students who have used smokeless tobacco, the majority first tried it in grade school.
Smokeless tobacco use has other physical consequences:
- Rapid absorption of the stimulant nicotine through the mouth into the bloodstream.
- Increased heart rate and blood pressure
- Constricted blood vessels
- Addiction to nicotine
- Reduced physical performance and/or productivity.
Not using smokeless tobacco has many social benefits including:
- Chemicals in the tobacco produce three carcinogens (cancer-causing agents); when combined with saliva, additional carcinogens are produced.
- Application of these carcinogens can produce white, thick patches called leukoplakia on the lining of the mouth; these lesions are considered to be precancerous.
- Extensive studies conclude there is a positive correlation between smokeless tobacco use and cancers of the oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, and esophagus. In an Arkansas study, 91% of patients with oral cancers had used smokeless tobacco.
- Damage to gum tissue
- Increased sensitivity to cold and heat
- Loosened teeth which can eventually fall out
- Reduced sense of taste and ability to smell.
The following are some tips for quitting cigarettes and smokeless tobacco:
- Breath does not smell like tobacco
- Unstained teeth
- Approval by most people
- Make a list of all the reasons you want to quit; keep it with you and look at it often.
- Be assertive. Tell others clearly why you are quitting tobacco.
- Make it difficult to use tobacco; wet down and throw out all cigarettes and smokeless tobacco.
- When the urge to use tobacco hits, take a deep breath. Hold it for ten seconds, then release slowly. Deep, rhythmic breaths are similar to smoking, only you inhale clean air instead of poisonous gases.
- Stock up on low-calorie "nibbles": sugarless gum, hard candy, carrots, sunflower seeds, fresh fruit, popcorn.
- Avoid situations where you usually use tobacco: the "smoking area" at school, the convenience store or mall, riding with friends who smoke or chew, etc.
- Keep busy. Acquire some new hobbies. Write a letter, play an instrument, take a walk, call a friend.
- Get rid of "tobacco mouth" by brushing your teeth several times.
- Announce your plan to quit. Ask for help from friends and family members who will offer encouragement.
- Figure out how much money you will save by not using tobacco.
- Reward yourself frequently. Quitting is hard; you deserve credit for your efforts. Plan to reward yourself with each success; buy a new record or tape, a new pair of jeans, or do something nice for yourself.
Missouri Department of Health, State Center for Health Statistics, December 1987
Hazelden Health Foundation, Inc., Choose to Be Tobacco Free, 1987
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Surgeon General, 1986
Go to FACT Sheet List
MISSOURI DEPARTMENT OF MENTAL HEALTH
Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse
1706 East Elm; P.O. Box 687
Jefferson City, Missouri 65102