What's so bad about smokeless tobacco? It's not as bad as smoking right?

If you do an internet search you’ll find articles that tell you how “safe” smokeless tobacco is… that couldn’t be further from the truth. They’ll tell you that the real danger to smoking is the “smoke” itself and the tobacco just isn’t dangerous – LIES!!!

Smokeless tobacco contains at least 3,000 chemicals, including many that you wouldn’t want in your body. Like all forms of tobacco, dip & chew contain nicotine, an addictive drug that gets you hooked on tobacco. Holding one pinch of smokeless tobacco in your mouth for 30 minutes delivers as much nicotine as 3-4 cigarettes.

In addition, at least 28 cancer-causing chemicals have been identified in smokeless tobacco, including:

  • nitrosamines – the most powerful cancer-causing agents in smokeless tobacco.
  • Smokeless tobacco contains from 20 to 43,000 times more nitrosamines than other consumer products, such as beer or bacon!
  • polonium 210 – a radioactive form of the element polonium
  • formaldehyde – a chemical found in the fluid used to preserve dead bodies
  • cadmium – a metallic element used in batteries
  • arsenic – a poisonous element used in insecticides

The use of smokeless tobacco can cause:

  • cancers of the mouth, pharynx (throat), and esophagus (the tube that carries food to the stomach)
  • shrinking of the gums around your teeth
  • cracked lips, white spots, sores, and bleeding in the mouth
  • increased risk for heart disease and stroke

Still think that smokeless tobacco isn’t dangerous?

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  1. Id like to know where the writer of this article got their facts , from another online article ? Or just guessing? Because there has been a doctor whose done a full research on smokeless tobaco and while he says he still tell people to not so it or said it is a safe alternative to smoking and goes on to say why so please don’t write articles of lies whn you do not know what ur talking about the chemicals in cigerates are far worse then smokeless tobaco

  2. Dan – all of the articles on KillTheCan.org are written by people who’ve actually used (and quit) smokeless tobacco products. We unequivocally “know what we’re talking about”.

    If you read the article which you’re commenting on, we’re not suggesting cigarettes aren’t “worse” than smokeless products (though that’s debatable as well). What we’re saying is that smokeless products aren’t “safe alternatives” as many studies suggest.

    You mention “a doctor that has done research”. Care to share the study? I’d love to see it.

    • I have been chewing tobacco for about 3 years now and have not experienced and of the side affects you listed. The only way your gums will bleed is if you do it way way too much and your teeth won’t stain if you brush an take care of your teeth. If you use it in moderation and not excessively then you will not have these made up side effects. And most of the time people get cancer for chewing way too much and not taking care of their mouth. I understand it can be addicting but anything could be considered addicting food can be addicting. It’s all about moderation. You could chew too many seeds and you would stop experience some of these side effects.. Get your facts right haha

    • yes i do beleive just about everything. I know its bad. One thing i will never understand or possiblly not buy off on is why in the hell they would put all these very expensive toxic chemicals in the stuff? The nicotine its what ya get hooked on so adding all the other expensive stuff makes no since (Plutonuim 210)? REALLY COME ON

  3. In the 1971, cigarette advertisements were no longer allowed on television or on radio. Smokeless tobacco ads were allowed on air until 1986 because it was billed as a “safe alternative”. According to documents from the industry, they wanted to push “harm reduction” instead of “quitting”. Hence the warning label says specifically “This product is not a safe alternative”.

    The doctor you are speak of is Dr. Rodu and he receives an “open grant” from tobacco companies to promote snuff as a safe alternative. I have yet to see an independent review of his work.

    Please list any specific lies that are stated in the article.

  4. you mean one single doctor, apposed to thousands of doctors, scientists, addicts, cancer patients, relatives of deceased loved ones, and even the tobacco companies themselves…oh yeah, lets trust the one doctor. makes perfect sense.

    • One doctor is not the reason here. It is about quality not quantity. In my opinion cancer is genetic so if your’e going to get it you’re going to get it regardless. Yes there are things that can speed up the process but the evidence that smokeless tobacco has ever been the cause of cancer in anyone EVER is nowhere to be found. So until then stop beating this dead horse with extremely general statistics and false claims of people who say they got the big C from ST.

      • Bob – thank you for your “opinion” that cancer is genetic. Would you care to share you credentials that would make me take your opinion as fact? Did you ever read this article that you’re commenting on? Are you suggesting that the cancer-causing agents that have been identified in smokeless tobacco aren’t in fact “cancer-causing”?

        I’m not quite sure how we’re “beating a dead horse” here by pointing out the fact that these ingredients are in these products.

    • You also mean Doctors completely out of their field of work doing this to do it?
      There’s brain surgeons “Proving”, smokeless tobacco is worse. I could literally say I was a Doctor and I’d have thousands of people by the balls from their gullibility.

  5. Just to back up Bob’s comment I would like to cite these websites http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=13276
    Given this information humans are exposed to carcinogens on a daily basis just living normal smoke free lives and I see how Bob could very well be correct in his statement

    • Thanks for chiming in James. I don’t think anyone here is suggesting that smokeless is the ONLY reason you can get cancer as that’s obviously not the case. That said, there are a slew of sources that will suggest that smokeless use will INCREASE your chances of developing cancer (and other diseases).

      I don’t typically like to get into a war of source citing, because we can go back an forth all day long posting links that credit / discredit an argument. That said, I will add one (from the same source you cited above – Cancer.org).


      Please note the section “What kinds of illness are caused by oral or smokeless tobacco” where they list 8 DIFFERENT types of cancers that can be caused by smokeless use.

      • No disrespect intended but almost always and everywhere it is stated that Smokeless tobacco CAUSES cancer and frankly that’s yet to be proven. In fact it is still a mystery to scientist why cells will turn malignant. I personally believe that tobacco use will increase your chances and in some people actually cause it but again this is a personal belief.

        • No disrespect taken. I think it’s a matter of semantics but I one that I’ve noticed too. That said, whether smokeless tobacco “causes cancer” vs. if smokeless tobacco makes is “4-5 times more likely you’ll develop cancer” at least to me… is pretty much the same thing..

          • I agree and no matter causes or increases the chances it isn’t worth it and certainly not good for you.

  6. I just put a big chew in

    • Um… congrats? Is this a plea for help? If so you’re in the right place. Is this you trolling a quit group? Not quite sure how you’d like us to respond to this…

  7. Hi Nick,
    If you put in a big chew, why are you here? This forum is for serious quitters. Do you want to regain your freedom? If so, post up! -VerticalCloud

  8. Hello,
    I quit 16 months ago after 4 years of putting 1-2 tins a day of that stuff in my mouth. I feel 100% better.
    I still panic that I might get cancer:(
    But I can tell you only after 4 years of use I got high blood pressure. I am only 25
    So quit before you get health problems or worse cancer.

  9. Thank god I got away from using smokeless tobacco! What a burden it was to me and my family. I used for about 31 years. I was a slave to it, and a company(US Smokeless Tobacco, an Altria company) that big tobacco used to get more nicotine addicts to use their harmful products. Check out what they say about their own products here: http://www.ussmokeless.com/en/cms/Products/Smokeless_Tobacco/default.aspx?src=home

    Thanks to this site, I am finally able to face the day without something to be ashamed of, and something that would have killed me if I had continued to use it!

  10. Dear Chewie,

    Being an asshole doesn’t help your cause.


  11. It’s a free country do what makes you happy

  12. I have been using dip for about 3 years, off and on though. Sometimes for about 3-4 months ill use it regularly, then quit easily for about 2 months before starting again. The first time I took a break was after about 8 months of using and after 2 days I no longer had that urge. My question though is how long do you have to be dipping to risk getting cancer. I have read on some sites that it needs to be 10+ years. But I am not so sure about that, anyone know for a fact?

    • Ben – I don’t think anyone knows for a fact. There have been folks who’ve chewed for decades and not gotten cancer. There have been others that have chewed for less than a year and died a year later. That said, there’s little debate that dipping is bad for you. The sooner you quit, the sooner you know that you’re not doing anything to further your chances.

      • “There have been others that have chewed for less than a year and died a year later” you actually just make this stuff up. I have done much research, online and in research databases, and have not found one case of someone dying from chewing tobacco in one year.

        • Mike – when doing your “much research” online and in “research databases” I’m assuming you’ve run across people who have developed cancer from using smokeless tobacco.

          I’m also assuming that you’ve run across people who’ve chewed for decades.

          I’m assuming once again that you’ve not run across any research that puts a specific timeline on cancer growth (as I suggested above) and I’m further assuming that you’ll agree that there IS a link between smokeless and cancer.

          As you’ve not run across a timeline for cancer growth, I’m also assuming you’d agree with me that since there IS a link between smokeless and cancer that if you don’t wan’t to get cancer, then you shouldn’t chew smokeless tobacco.

        • Was thinking the same thing. What a pile of shit.

  13. Oral Cancer occurs in approximately 15 per 100,000 non-tobacco users and doubles with the use of smokeless tobacco. Meaning 30 of every 100,000 users will be diagnosed with this disease. The mortality rate of oral cancer is about 50% taking us back to the 15 per 100,000 rate which is similar to the rate of vehicular deaths and nowhere near the rate of smokers.

    • Good stats Stevie. Though I fail to see how they make your argument for you. CLEARLY smoking causes more deaths than smokeless. I don’t believe I (or anyone else on KTC for that matter) has said otherwise. If we have please point me to it and I’ll gladly recant. As you said, using smokeless doubles the rate of cancer. The fact the numbers are small are sort of irrelevant. I’d agree with you that 15/100,000 is pretty small… unless you’re one of the 15… then it’s huge.

      And those numbers don’t take into account all the other issues associated with chewing (bad breath, cardiovascular issue, acid reflux, gum erosion, etc.)

      I do sincerely appreciate your numbers though. Thank you.

  14. The title of the article lead me too believe that’s what you were getting at. I do realize that I posted on an anti-smokeless forum but I can’t help but think that the facts have been misrepresented. The purpose of my stats were to show that while smokeless tobacco is not a “healthy” habit the risk of dying as a direct result of use is minuscule. I appreciate your efforts and hope that you succeed in your mission and for the record, more non-tobacco users die daily than users. Approximately 155,000 people die daily, of that, only 1300 are tobacco users, smokers included. Point being, nobodies getting out alive, do what makes you happy. :)

  15. And, I will refrain from any further posting on your blog as it makes me a dick to do anything that would in anyway interfere with the message you are trying too spread. Good Luck too everyone trying to quit!

  16. Watch the video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pTOooWc0dsI its called how smokeless tobacco can save your life lots of good facts in it

    • Watched the whole thing. I’ll try to keep my response and level headed as possible.

      First off… all of the “research” that’s being referenced here is by Dr. Brad Rodu who’s the poster boy for “harm reduction”. I’ve said time and time again that I’m a fan of “total harm reduction” as opposed to what Rodu preaches. The title of the book and the title of this video is completely misleading. Using smokeless tobacco is going to do nothing to save your life. Is using dip “safer” than smoking? Sure. I don’t think anyone here has ever said otherwise. But to say it will “save your life” is a misnomer meant to sell books.

      The comparison in this video saying “What’s worse… Cope or Heroin” is laughable so I won’t bother saying anything else about it.

      I did find it ironic that the dentist Mr. Mudjug was talking to said, “The odds of getting cancer is almost nothing” and then immediately followed that up with, “But make sure you get regulsr checkups so we can catch anything if it comes up.” Something doesn’t seem right there.

      Is there an epidemic of oral cancer in the world? Absolutely not. 6 out of 100,000 per year IS super low… unless you’re one of those 6. However, saying using smokelss won’t do much to your chances of getting oral is laughable as well. Using it increases your changes more than 4x than not using.

      I’d agree with Mr. Mudjug that the reason the government isn’t really doing much about tobacco is all about money. $140 billion (way more than that now I’m sure) is nothing to shake a stick at. I’d also agree that it’s complete bullshit that candy doens’t have warning labels – it should. I think we can agree that it never will… but that’s another discussion.

      Dippers WILL love this video and Dr. Rodu’s book. After all, it reinforces what they want to hear.

      I won’t lie… I LOVED dipping. And had Dr. Rodu been around I would have been a big fan of his. But I also don’t miss my receeding gums, the feeling of not being in control cause I forgot my can, etc.

      For me the bottom line is this. NOT being addicted to something is WAY better than being addicted to something.

      And one more thing. Mr. Mudjusg says multiple time to “Do research”. Yet another thing we agree on. Though I would suggest to do additional research other than just Dr. Rodu. If you do, you will find plenty of studies that tell you just how bad the stuff is.

  17. god thats a long comment but very smart sounding if that is what you want it to be

  18. it was informational mr chewie and by the way are you a user “chewie” i am not because of all the chemicals but I’ve done it before,i was very sick my first

  19. My quitting day is tomorrow, 4/6/14 and I found this site today and have enjoyed a bunch of the articles. I don’t understand what a bunch of dip advocates are doing here preaching the stuff, but thanks for your posts chewie. They respond completely and intelligently, but I suppose somehow you still haven’t gotten your point across… Anyway, I’m glad I found this site because it’ll help me quit!

  20. I chew once every night out of habbit. More like a ritual. I dont realy have an urge for it. I been doing it for a little over a year. Does that mean I have an addiction? I dont really think about chew until im home at night after work and board watching t.v

  21. Hey I just started dipping and I just feel so sick after every one does it in my school so I guess I just wanted to be part of the crowd but today was my last day of that stuff im done I’m free mother truckers but guess what I still keep my life frekin hillbilly with out cancer in my mouth

  22. If my dad has dipped for about 20 some years and I have been for about a year does that mean I would be the same as him. He hasn’t had any problems with dipping. So should I?

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