Introduction to Smokeless Tobacco Products

Smokeless tobacco products have been in existence for thousands of years among populations in South America and Southeast Asia. Over time, these products have gained popularity throughout the world. Smokeless tobacco is consumed without burning the product, and can be used orally or nasally. Oral smokeless tobacco products are placed in the mouth, cheek or lip and sucked (dipped) or chewed and are frequently mixed with other ingredients, including areca nut and slaked lime, within a betel leaf. Tobacco pastes or powders are used in a similar manner and placed on the gums or teeth. Fine tobacco powder mixtures are usually inhaled and absorbed in the nasal passages.

There is sufficient evidence that the use of smokeless tobacco causes cancer in humans. Smokeless tobacco contains carcinogens, which contribute to cancers of the oral cavity and the risk of other head and neck cancers. Smokeless tobacco use also causes a number of noncancerous oral conditions and can lead to nicotine addiction similar to that produced by cigarette smoking.

Page updated: 30 Mar 2012