In The Know Zone

More About Spit Tobacco

Types of Smokeless (Spit) Tobacco

The two types of smokeless tobacco are chewing tobacco and snuff. Chewing tobacco is sold in loose leaf, twist and plug forms. Snuff comes in moist, dry, and sachet (pouch) forms. The most popular form of smokeless tobacco today is moist snuff.

There are approximately 10 million users of smokeless tobacco, and 3 million are under the age of 21. Almost 25% of young users start by the 6th grade, and almost 75% start by the 9th grade.

In 1970, young males aged 17-19 used smokeless tobacco the least of any age group. Today, usage by 17-19 year old males is the highest of any age group. The tobacco industry has targeted young males with its aggressive advertising. Ads associate smokeless tobacco with rodeos, rock stars, and sports heroes. Smokeless tobacco companies sponsor rock concerts, rodeos, auto racing, and tractor pulls.

Risks of Smokeless Tobacco Use

Spit tobacco is not a safe substitute for smoking. It is at least as addictive as cigarettes. Users who try to quit go through the same withdrawal symptoms smokers do. Tobacco companies have done a great deal to ease new users into the product, like adding flavor and packaging moist snuff in sachets.

"Cherry Skoal is for somebody who likes the taste of candy, if you know what I'm saying" - U.S. Tobacco

Manufacturers have also altered the nicotine content and pH of the product to increase its addictiveness.

Smokeless tobacco leads to oral cancers, cancers of the esophagus, larynx, and stomach, and an increased risk of heart attacks and other cardiovascular diseases.

40-60% of smokeless tobacco users develop raised, white patches, called leukoplakia, in their mouths within a few months of beginning regular use. Leukoplakia are often precancerous.

Other oral side effects of smokeless tobacco include receding gums, stained teeth, lost sense of taste, and bad breath.

Smokeless tobacco contains the cancer-causing agents nitrosamines, polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons, and radioactive and metallic compounds. The nitrosamine content of smokeless tobacco is over 1,000 times greater than the amount allowed by the FDA in products like beer and bacon.

Secondhand Smoke

Secondhand smoke, "passive smoking" or "environmental tobacco smoke (ETS)" is another major killer. Just as they did with regard to nicotine, the tobacco companies denied for many years that secondhand smoke is harmful. Later, legal pressures caused some of them to change their statements. Bennett LeBow, CEO of the Liggett Group, when asked in 1998 about the Environmental Protection Agency's estimate that 3,000 nonsmokers die from lung cancer per year as a result of secondhand smoke exposure, stated he had "no reason to disagree with that."

In 1986, the Surgeon General issued the first report on passive smoking. The report made three important points about secondhand smoke:

Involuntary smoking causes disease, including lung cancer, in healthy nonsmokers.

The children of parents who smoke compared with the children of nonsmoking parents have an increased frequency of respiratory infections, increased respiratory symptoms, and slower development of lung function as the lung matures.

The simple separation of smokers and nonsmokers within the same airspace may reduce, but does not eliminate the exposure of the nonsmoker to environment tobacco smoke.

Since the Surgeon General’s report, evidence that passive smoking causes disease in healthy nonsmokers has grown significantly. For example, it is now known that passive smoking kills about 3,000 Americans each year with lung cancer, and it kills about 48,000 each year with heart disease. Another 2,000 are killed by other environmental tobacco smoke-related diseases. Passive smoking is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. after active smoking and alcohol abuse. For every eight smokers the tobacco industry kills, it takes one nonsmoker with them.

Passive smoking contributes to between 150,000 and 300,000 respiratory infections in babies each year, and triggers up to 26,000 new cases of asthma in previously healthy children.

"If children don't like to be in a smoky room, they'll leave." When asked about infants, who can't leave a smoky room, he said "At some point, they begin to crawl." -Charles Harper, R.J. Reynolds Chairman, quoted in USA Today: B1, April 18, 1996

In addition, up to 1 million children who already have asthma experience worsened symptoms because of environmental tobacco smoke.

A California-EPA report finds that environmental tobacco smoke exposure is linked to lung and nasal sinus cancer, heart disease, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Serious impacts of environmental tobacco smoke on children include causing asthma and making it worse, bronchitis and pneumonia, middle ear infection, chronic respiratory symptoms, and low birth weight.

Tobacco Industry Executive Quotes

For many years tobacco industry scientists and executives denied that nicotine was addictive and that they tried to attract underage users to their products. In 1994, a huge group of internal industry documents became available, and the fact that the tobacco companies manipulate the nicotine level in their products to addict their customers, including children became obvious. Here are a few quotes from tobacco industry executives and other that show their true intentions.

"Today's teenager is tomorrow's potential regular customer…" -- Phillip Morris

"Marlboro's phenomenal growth rate in the past has been attributable in large part to our high market penetration among young smokers . . . 15-19 years old . . . my own data, which includes younger teenagers, shows even higher market penetration among 15-17 year olds." -Phillip Morris researcher to the head of Research at Phillip Morris, Robert B. Seligman

"We were trying very hard to influence kids who were 14 to start smoking". -- Creative director of a New York advertising agency on tobacco advertisements; Medical Journal of Australia, 5 March 1983, p.237

"The cigarette should be conceived not as a product but as a package. The product is nicotine. . . . Think of the cigarette as a dispenser for a dose unit of nicotine. . . . Think of a puff of smoke as the vehicle of nicotine. . . . Smoke is beyond question the most optimized vehicle of nicotine and the cigarette the most optimized dispenser of smoke." -- A 1972 confidential Philip Morris Research Center report

"To ensure increased and longer-term growth for CAMEL FILTER, the brand must increase its share penetration among the 14-24 age group which have a new set of more liberal values and which represent tomorrow's cigarette business." -- RJ Reynolds 1975

"An alternative approach is to treat the tobacco, which has its nicotine naturally tied up in the form of nicotine salts, with a stronger base than nicotine, such as ammonia." The "free nicotine in smoke would have a much greater physiological effect than nicotine salts." "...It has been reported in the literature, and verified by experiments here that air dilution of cigarette smoke results in up to 40% higher nicotine delivery than might be expected by conventional construction." -- Lorillard "Nicotine Augmentation Project" 1976

"A widely held theory holds that most people smoke for the narcotic effect (relaxing, sedative) that comes from nicotine....Although more people talk about "taste," it is likely that greater numbers smoke for the narcotic value that comes from the nicotine." -- Philip Morris, "The chemistry of KOOL and a recommendation" 1972

"Some children are so active (or "hyperkinetic") that they are unable to sit quietly in school and concentrate on what is being taught… "We have already collaborated with a local school system in identifying some such children presently in the third grade; we are reviewing the available literature on the topic; and we may propose a prospective study of this relationship. It would be good to show that smoking is an advantage to at least one subgroup of the population." -- Philip Morris "Smoker Psychology" 1974

"In a sense, the tobacco industry may be thought of as being specialized, highly ritualized, and stylized segment of the pharmaceutical industry. Tobacco products uniquely contain and deliver nicotine, a potential drug with a variety of physiological effects." -- Memo written by RJR executive Claude Teague, Jr.

"We wonder whether such children [who display hyperkinetic behavior] may not eventually become cigarette smokers in their teenage years as they discover the advantage of self-stimulation via nicotine. We have already collaborated with a local school system in identifying some such children in the third grade." -- June 10, 1974 Phillip Morris report on a company-sponsored study

"Without nicotine... there would be no smoking... " -- Phillip Morris researcher 1972

"Smoking is a habit of addiction." -- BATCO science advisor, 1962

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