Smokeless Tobacco and E-Cigarettes

Understanding these products and resources for cessation.

What is smokeless tobacco?

There are two basic types of smokeless tobacco--snuff and chewing tobacco.

Snuff is a finely ground or shredded tobacco, packaged dry, moist, or in sachets (tea bag-like pouches). Typically, the user places a pinch or dip between the cheek and gum.

Chewing tobacco is available in loose leaf, plug (plug-firm and plug-moist), or twist forms, with the user putting a wad of tobacco inside the cheek.

Smokeless tobacco is sometimes called "spit" or "spitting" tobacco because people spit out the tobacco juices and saliva that build up in the mouth.

National Cancer Institute Q&A

CDC Fact Sheet

What is an electronic cigarette?

Electronic cigarettes (also known as e-cigarettes) are battery-powered devices that, with the push of a button, provide inhaled doses of nicotine by delivering a vaporized propylene glycol/nicotine mixture.  The nicotine is supplied through reloadable cartridges.

E-cigarettes are frequently advertised as an alternative to smoked tobacco products. Advertisements have suggested e-cigarettes are "healthier" and better than regular cigarettes because they are tar free.  In contrast to the advertisements, both the Food and Drug Administration and World Health Organization have issued safety warnings about the use of these products.

FDA e-cigarette alert

WHO e-cigarette warning

Who uses smokeless tobacco?

In the United States, the 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, which was conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, reported the following statistics:

  • An estimated 8.7 million Americans age 12 and older (3.5 percent) had used smokeless tobacco in the past month.
  • Smokeless tobacco use was most common among young adults ages 18 to 25.
  • Men were 10 times more likely than women to report using smokeless tobacco (6.4 percent of men age 12 and older compared with 0.4 percent of women).

What resources are available to help smokeless tobacco users quit?

The National Cancer Institute offers free, confidential counseling and information about quitting chewing tobacco and snuff. Smokeless tobacco users can call 1-877-44U-QUIT (1-877-448-7848) to talk to a cessation counselor (Monday through Friday 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time)

Illinois Tobacco Quitline Free resource physicians can refer patients to for counseling

The Oral Cancer Foundation National public service entity designed to reduce oral cancer suffering and save lives through prevention, education, research, advocacy, and support activities.

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