Smokeless tobacco products include chewing tobacco and snuff. These products are less harmful than smoking cigarettes. But they are just as addictive as cigarettes and do have serious health risks.
Smokeless tobacco causes the following health risks:
- White, leathery patches (leukoplakia) that form on the inside of the cheek or on the gum. These patches can turn into cancer of the mouth (oral cancer), involving the lip, tongue, or cheek.
- Dental problems, such as abrasion of teeth, gum recessions, and periodontal bone loss.
- An increased risk of pancreatic cancer.
Nicotine from smokeless tobacco can lead to nicotine dependence. This can make quitting smokeless tobacco just as hard as quitting cigarettes.
- Fiore MC, et al. (2008). Clinical Practice Guideline: Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence: 2008 Update. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Also available online: http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/tobacco/treating_tobacco_use08.pdf.
Current as of: February 11, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Michael F. Bierer MD - Internal Medicine, Addiction Medicine