Just Because It’s Smokeless, Doesn’t Mean It’s Harmless

Just Because It’s Smokeless, Doesn’t Mean It’s Harmless

By Nick Gregorio

Smokeless tobacco goes by many names – chewing tobacco, chew, dip, snuff, and pinch, among others. Regardless of what it’s called, and whatever slight differences might exist in using each of the different forms, all types of smokeless tobacco have the same effects on your body. And yes, despite whatever misconceptions you may have heard, it is dangerous.

The demographic that uses chewing tobacco the most is white males who live in rural areas. It is also popular among baseball and ice hockey players. In fact, as a hockey player myself, the ice rink was the only place I ever encountered its use before coming to St. Bonaventure University, where it is more prevalent than I have previously experienced. Many people are attracted to dip because of nicotine’s stimulatory effects and its marketing as a confirmation of their ruggedness or masculinity. But, as I stressed before, it is dangerous to your health, a fact that many people are unaware of or simply choose to ignore.

According to of the National Cancer Institute’s website, smokeless tobacco contains 28 known human carcinogens and most commonly causes various oral cancers of the mouth, jaw, tongue, gums, and throat. However, in addition to these cancers, it can also cause lung, stomach, and pancreatic cancers, heart disease, heart attacks, and stroke. Nicotine, as we all know from the anti-smoking education we have received, is extremely addictive. Addiction sets in quickly and is extraordinarily difficult to beat once it has developed. Tobacco use, after all, is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, and that statistic includes chewing, not just smoking. Babe Ruth, who also consumed alcohol excessively in addition to chewing tobacco, died of throat cancer. Most recently, not even 6 months prior to the writing of this article, baseball Hall of Famer, Tony Gwynn, died of salivary cancer, which he believed was from his own chewing tobacco use.            

If the last paragraph just seems like a distant and rambling list of fatal conditions that isn’t personal enough to convince you, Google throat or jaw cancer. After that, Google what someone looks like after undergoing surgery to remove throat or jaw tumors. It can be pretty unsettling. I don’t know a single person who has ever been attracted to the supposed manliness of someone else’s use of chewing tobacco. Chances are, they’re most likely disgusted by all the spit.

Bottom line, just as with smoking and other drugs, say no to dip, too. If you value your health (and your face), saying no is the best choice that you can make in regards to tobacco.