Smokeless tobacco—with snuff and chewing tobacco being the most popular forms— is not a safe alternative to cigarettes. While older men were once the primary users of these products, today young men and teenage boys make up 92 percent of smokeless tobacco consumers, according to an article in the Daily Herald.
Writing for the suburban Chicago newspaper, Pediatrician Helen Minciotti, pointed out several other facts, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Cancer Institute, about these products and their usage.
- Smokeless tobacco use among high school boys is up from 11 percent in 2003 to 15 percent in 2009.
- Smokeless tobacco users have an average start age of 12 years compared to 14 years for cigarette smoking.
- Smokeless tobacco contains 28 known carcinogens.
- Research shows that smokeless tobacco use causes oral, esophageal and pancreatic cancers, and has been linked to the development of precancerous white patches in the mouth (leukoplakia), gum disease and heart disease.
- Studies show that users of smokeless tobacco products have blood nicotine levels similar to cigarette smokers, and that these blood levels linger longer in smokeless users than in smokers.
“There is no safe tobacco product, and there is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke,” the cancer institute states on its website.
For more information about drug and alcohol use by youth, see the resources from JJIE.