Smokeless tobacco

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Updated: 4/11/2007 2:47 pm
As the dangers of smoking become known, some smokers have turned to smokeless tobacco--plugs, leaf tobacco, and snuff--in the mistaken belief that it's safer than smoking. In fact, it's far more addictive than cigarettes. One tin of smokeless tobacco equals the amount of nicotine in four packs of cigarettes. In addition, the juice from smokeless tobacco is absorbed through the lining of the mouth, causing 25,000 cases of cancer of the cheeks, gums, and throat each year in the U-S, including 9,000 deaths. Oral cancers can also cause grotesque facial disfigurations. After a few weeks of use, lips and gums can begin to crack, bleed, wrinkle, and develop sores and white spots. It also stains the teeth, wears off enamel, and leads to gum recession. Another side effect is that it numbs the taste buds, so food doesn't taste or smell as strong. And smokeless tobacco users typically have bad breath. An increasing number of adolescents are using smokeless tobacco, even teenage girls. Two-thirds of children who use smokeless tobacco begin doing so before age 12. 'Starter products' that hook kids are low in nicotine and have a candy-like taste. For more information about the dangers of smokeless tobacco, contact a healthcare professional.

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