Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Are smokeless tobacco products safe?

Fruit, candy and clove flavored cigarettes are now banned in the U.S. This new legislation was passed in an effort to reduce the number of young smokers. Flavored cigarettes are used 3 times more often by smokers who are 17 years of age than smokers who are over 25 years old. According to Assistant Secretary of Health Howard Koh, flavored cigarettes attract and allure kids into lifetime addiction. The majority of adults started smoking during their teen years.

Since the ban on cigarette advertising, tobacco companies now advertise smokeless tobacco products such as snuff. This gives smokers a way to address their nicotine cravings anywhere they choose. It delivers 3 to 4 times more nicotine per “pinch” than one cigarette.

Some smokeless tobacco comes in powder form and is snorted just like cocaine. Electric cigarettes are now available and deliver the same taste nicotine that smokers crave without the smoke and tar. They are even rechargeable. This gives smokers a way to get around the smoking ban in public.

In 2000, a survey was conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to find out statistically how many people used smokeless tobacco products. The results was that over 7 ½ million people aged 12 and old had used smokeless tobacco within a month of the study.

Just as cigarettes use in movies sways a teenager’s perspective that smoking is “cool”, athletes can have the same influence on young people. Anyone who watches baseball will generally find a player with a large wad of tobacco in their mouth. As role models, teens look up to many athletes. Take Michael Jordan for example. Young people all over the world wanted to be “just like Mike”. His endorsements for Nike made him millions but made Nike sales go through the roof. In fact, Nike’s revenues before signing Michael Jordan were $900 million back in 1984. By 1997 as Jordan was claiming his 5th NBA title, Nike sales ballooned to over $9 billion annually.

Some people believe that it is safer to use smokeless tobacco than cigarettes. But each comes with its own risks. Just like cigarettes smokers risk lung cancer, smokeless tobacco users risk cancers of the mouth, throat, pancreas and esophagus. Those cancer may not seem as “bad” as lung cancer but the reality is that all cancers are bad.

Smoking by any means is the number one reason of preventable death in the United States. To read more on smokeless tobacco go to: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Tobacco/smokeless




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