Smokeless Tobacco Health Effects

Smokeless tobacco use is a significant health risk and cause of disease. Despite claims to the contrary, it is NOT a safe alternative to smoking or method of quitting.2

Chemicals Found in Smokeless Tobacco

Smokeless tobacco and snuff contain 3,000 chemicals including 28 carcinogens (cancer-causing agents)3 which include:

Embalming fluid
Especially potent poison
Nuclear waste
Paint Stripper
Toilet bowl cleaner

Used in car batteries

Tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNAs)
TSNAs are the most harmful carcinogens. They are formed during the growing, curing, fermenting, and aging of tobacco. TSNAs have been detected in some smokeless tobacco products at levels 100 times higher than what is allowed in foods, such as bacon and beer.4


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Nicotine, a highly addictive substance is the main ingredient in smokeless tobacco.
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The amount of nicotine in a can of smokeless tobacco is roughly 144 milligrams, which is equal to about 80 cigarettes. In other words, one can of snuff or dip equals about four packs of cigarettes.5
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Nicotine from smokeless tobacco stays in the bloodstream for a longer time when compared to cigarettes.4

Short and Long-Term Health Effects

There are numerous short and long-term effects of smokeless tobacco including:

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Cancer of the mouth, esophagus, pharynx, larynx, stomach and pancreas, just to name a few
Bad Breath
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Heart disease, including heart attack & stroke
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Mouth Sores (70% of smokeless tobacco users have sores)3
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Decreased athletic ability
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Tooth and bone loss

For more detailed information about the health effects of smokeless tobacco go to the Health Effects of Smokeless Tobacco information sheet at: (PDF 32.1 KB)

1. Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids. “Smokeless Tobacco & Kids.” 3 October 2007.
2 Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids. “Smokeless Tobacco in the US.” 4 October 2007.
3 The Bacchus Network. “Top Facts: Spit Tobacco.” November 2006. 4 October 2007.
4 National Cancer Institute. “Smokeless Tobacco & Cancer: Q&A.” 30 May 2003. U.S. National Institutes of Health. 4 October 2007.
5 National Spit Tobacco Education Program. “Spit Tobacco Facts.” Oral Health America. 4 October 2007.
6 Federal Trade Commission. “Cigarette Report for 2004 and 2005.” 2007. 9 October 2007.
7 Federal Trade Commission. “Smokeless Tobacco Report for the years 2002-2005.” 2007. 9 October 2007.
8 Centers for Disease Control. State Tobacco Activities Tracking and Evaluation System. Department of Health and Human Services. 13 May 2007.
9 Centers for Disease Control. “Fact Sheet: Smokeless Tobacco.” April 2007. Department of Health and Human Services. 9 October 2007.
10 American Legacy Foundation. “Beyond Cigarettes: The Use of Other Tobacco Products.” March 2005. 1 June 2007.
11 Campaign For Tobacco Free Kids. “The US isn’t Sweden.” 15 October 2007.

way to quit

Other Tobacco and Nicotine Products