Be Informed

There are many programs and resources to benefit from on the road to recovery. Being informed of these resources is the first step to preventing tobacco use. 

Tobacco Products

Cigarettes and other forms of tobacco—including cigars, pipe tobacco, snuff, and chewing tobacco—contain the addictive drug nicotine. Nicotine is readily absorbed into the bloodstream when a tobacco product is chewed, inhaled, or smoked.

A cigarette is a cylinder of cut tobacco leaves rolled in thin paper for smoking. They are manufactured out of cured and finely cut tobacco leaves and reconstituted tobacco, often combined with other additives. There are approximately 600 ingredients in cigarettes. When burned, they create more than 7,000 chemicals. At least 69 of these chemicals are known to cause cancer, and many are poisonous (Source: American Lung Association).

Despite what you might have heard, cigar smoking isn’t safer than cigarette smoking — even if you don’t intentionally inhale the smoke. Like cigarette smoking, cigar smoking poses serious health risks, including: Cancer. All tobacco smoke contains chemicals that can cause cancer, and cigar smoke is no exception. Regular cigar smoking increases the risk of several types of cancers, including cancers of the mouth, lip, tongue, throat, esophagus, larynx and lung (Source: Mayo Clinic).

In pipes, the tobacco sits in a bowl at the end, and a stem connects the bowl to the mouthpiece. Another type of pipe, the water pipe, consists of a body filled with water, a bowl in which the tobacco is placed, and an attached tube and mouthpiece through which the pipe is smoked. Water pipes, or hookahs, originated in ancient Persia and India about 400 years ago and are still popular today. Hookahs are filled with fragrant tobaccos in a variety of flavors, such as cherry, apple, or mint. All tobacco smoke contains chemicals that can cause cancer, and pipe tobacco is no exception. Many people have the misconception that smoking a pipe doesn’t pose the same dangers as smoking cigarettes. However, the same harmful chemicals are present in both cigarette and pipe smoke. Smoking a pipe increases your risk for several types of cancer, heart disease, circulatory problems and lung disease (Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). In addition to the adverse health effects of smoking a pipe, you can still become addicted to nicotine, which is present in pipe tobacco.

Smokeless Tobacco

This consists of loose tobacco leaves that are sweetened and the nicotine is intended to be absorbed through the mouth tissues. The tobacco is held between the cheek and gum and held there, sometimes for hours at a time. The user spits out the brown saliva that has soaked through the tobacco. Usually you spit out the tobacco juices, but if you’re more addicted, you may tend to swallow some of the juices (Source: Mayo Clinic).

Snuff is finely ground tobacco packaged in cans or pouches. It’s sold as dry or moist.
Moist snuff is used by placing a pinch, dip, lipper, or quid, between the lower lip or cheek and gum. The nicotine in the snuff is absorbed through the tissues of the mouth. Moist snuff is also available in small, teabag-like pouches or sachets that can be placed between the cheek and gum. They are marketed as a discreet way to use tobacco.

Dry snuff is sold in a powdered form and is used by sniffing or inhaling the powder up the nose.

Snus (pronounced snoos) is a newer smokeless, spitless tobacco product that originated in Sweden. It comes in a pouch that you stick between your upper lip and gum. You leave it there for about a half-hour without having to spit, then discard it (Source: The Mayo Clinic).

These are pieces of compressed powdered tobacco, similar to small hard candies. They dissolve in your mouth, requiring no spitting of tobacco juices. They’re sometimes called tobacco lozenges, but they’re not the same as the nicotine lozenges used to help you quit smoking.

In some parts of the country, smokeless tobacco also comes in the form of plugs and twists. Plugs are tobacco compressed into a brick shape, and twists are braided and twisted tobacco. You hold a piece between your cheek and gum, and spit out the tobacco juices.

How do the risks of using smokeless tobacco compare with cigarette smoking?

Smokeless tobacco hurts and kills people all the same. Even though they are marketed as a less harmful alternative to smoking, smokeless products can be deadly. These products have not been proven to help smokers quit.

Smokers who delay quitting by using smokeless products between cigarettes greatly increase their risk of lung cancer. They also set themselves up for new health problems caused by smokeless tobacco. (Source: American Cancer Society)

  • Illnesses caused by smokeless tobacco include:
  • Mouth, tongue, cheek, gum, and throat cancer
  • Cancer in the esophagus (the swallowing tube that goes from your mouth to your stomach)
  • Stomach cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Possible increase in risk of heart disease, heart attacks, and stroke
  • Leukoplakia (white sores in the mouth that can become cancer)
  • Receding gums (gums slowly shrink from around the teeth) and gum disease (gingivitis)
  • Bone loss around the roots of the teeth
  • Abrasion (scratching and wearing down) of teeth
  • Cavities and tooth decay
    • Tooth loss
    • Stained and discolored teeth
    • Bad breath


Electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigarettes, are battery-operated products designed to deliver nicotine, flavor and other chemicals. They turn chemicals, including highly addictive nicotine, into an aerosol that is inhaled by the user.

For more information, visit: FDA’s Electronic Cigarettes webpage.

Find Contacts in Your Area

The Southwestern Regional Tobacco Coalition is a multi-county effort created to address the diverse issue of tobacco use in the southwestern health district of Pennsylvania.

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