If you've started using smokeless tobacco, or chewing tobacco, because you believe it is a safe alternative to cigarettes, think again. Chewing tobacco is just as dangerous as smoking cigarettes and may contain up to 30 cancer-causing chemicals, according to MayoClinic.com in the article titled "Chewing Tobacco: Not a Safe Alternative to Cigarettes."
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In the same way that cigarette companies offer several types of light, low-tar and smooth cigarette varieties, chewing tobacco is also offered in different forms, including chewing tobacco, which are sweetened, loose tobacco leaves; plugs, which is a sweetened cube of tobacco placed against the cheek; a twist, which is braided into a rope; dissolvable tobacco, which does not require you to spit out the tobacco juices as you use it; and snuff, which is ground tobacco placed in the mouth or snorted up the nose, notes MayoClinic.com.
The longer you use tobacco, you will need to use more of it and become more dependent on it, according to FamilyDoctor.org. Nicotine is present in cigarettes and smokeless tobacco, and is the substance that makes them so addictive. Smokeless tobacco contains 15 times more nicotine than cigarettes. This means that the risk of becoming addicted while using smokeless tobacco may be even higher than the risk associated with cigarettes, notes FamilyDoctor.org.
Long-term side effects of smoking cigarettes include an increased risk of stroke and heart attack, breathing conditions like emphysema and asthma, and lung cancer. Cigarettes may also cause wrinkles, yellow skin, yellow eyes and yellow teeth, notes FamilyDoctor.org. Individuals who use snuff have a 50 percent higher risk of getting mouth and pharynx cancer than those who smoke cigarettes, says Dr. Isadore Rosenfeld in the "Parade" article titled "The Risks: Chewing Tobacco vs. Cigarettes." Smokeless tobacco may also cause cavities, heart disease, mouth lesions and esophageal cancer.
Do not switch to smokeless tobacco as an alternative to smoking cigarettes, according to MayoClinic.com. If you are unable to quit smoking or smokeless tobacco on your own, try a smoking cessation aid, including nicotine gum or a nicotine patch. These aids will help slowly rid your body of its nicotine addiction and break the physical habit of chewing tobacco or holding a cigarette up to your mouth. Speak with your doctor before using nicotine replacement products, including nicotine patches, recommends FamilyDoctor.org.