History of Smokeless Tobacco:
Smoking and chewing of tobacco leaves has been a part of Native American culture since long time. It was there even before Europeans discovered and conquered America. Initially, tobacco use was restricted only to religious ceremonies. But, by the end of World War I, cigarette smoking became acceptable socially and was considered fashionable among men in general.
During the later half of the twentieth century, when tobacco smoking was identified as the primary cause of lung cancer, smoking of cigarettes dropped drastically. Ironically, smokeless tobacco started as a safer alternative to tobacco smoking! But nothing can be further than the truth.
What is Smokeless Tobacco?:
Smokeless tobacco, also known as chewing tobacco or spit tobacco, is another form of enjoying tobacco without lighting it up. You do not smoke it but only chew it in your mouth and spit it out. Smokeless tobacco comes in two main types – chewing tobacco and snuff.
Chewing tobacco is available in the form of loose leaf, twist or plug. A tobacco user usually put a wad of tobacco leaf inside his cheek and spit out its juice along with saliva that build up inside his mouth. Snuff is usually packaged in sachets or pouches in the form of dried, moist and finely grounded shredded tobacco.
Smokeless Tobacco and Health:
Chewing tobacco and snuff contain 28 cancer-causing agents. Among these, the most harmful carcinogen found in smokeless tobacco is tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNAs). Also, the amount of nicotine absorbed from smokeless tobacco is three or four times more than that of smoking cigarettes.
Smokeless tobacco can increase the risk of cancer in the oral cavity. People who are addicted to smokeless tobacco over a long period of time have increase risk of gum and cheek cancer. Apart from cancer, the other side effects of smokeless tobacco are nicotine addiction, gum disease, oral leukoplakia, recession of gum, etc.