Smokeless Tobacco Aim of Great American Spit Out

Military service members who use smokeless tobacco are encouraged to Ditch the Snuff for Better Stuff for the Great American Spit Out Feb. 19. Quit Tobacco — wants military members to ban together and quit tobacco for 24 hours. "Smokeless tobacco is not harmless," said Paul Fitzpatrick, program director for Quit Tobacco – "In fact, smokeless tobacco contains three to four times more nicotine than cigarettes." The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that approximately 75 percent of all mouth, lip, tongue, throat, nose and larynx cancers are due to smokeless tobacco use. And like cigarette smokers, smokeless tobacco users are at an increased risk for death from heart disease and stroke. According to the National Institutes of Health, holding an average-size dip in your mouth for 30 minutes gives you as much nicotine as smoking three cigarettes. A two-can-a-week snuff dipper gets as much nicotine as a pack and a half-a-day smoker. Smokeless tobacco is also expensive. A can of dip costs an average of $3. A two-can-a-week habit costs approximately $300 per year. A can-a-day habit costs nearly $1,100 per year. According to the American Dental Association, some of the side effects from using smokeless tobacco include gum disease that can lead to tooth loss; tissue and bone loss around the roots of the teeth; scratching and wearing down of teeth; stained and discolored teeth; and bad breath. Quitting is the only way to decrease your risk of these and other tobacco-related health problems, according to the ADA. For more information on smokeless tobacco and other issues, visit For more resources to help smokeless tobacco users quit, please visit © 2017 American Dental Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction or republication is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission from the American Dental Association.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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Tobacco's greatest threat to your health may be its association with oral cancer. The American Cancer Society reports that:

  • About 90 percent of people with mouth cancer and some types of throat cancer have used tobacco. The risk of developing these cancers increases as people smoke or chew more often or for a longer time.

  • Smokers are six times more likely than nonsmokers to develop these cancers.

  • About 37 percent of patients who continue to smoke after cancer treatment will develop second cancers of the mouth, throat or larynx. While only 6 percent of people who quit smoking will develop these secondary cancers.

  • Smokeless tobacco has been linked to cancers of the cheek, gums and inner surface of the lips. Smokeless tobacco increases the risk of these cancers by nearly 50 times.7