If you or someone you know is in crisis, contact the Military Crisis Line at 988 and press 1, or Text 838255. You can also call 911.

Smokeless Tobacco: Not a Quick Fix

Are you considering using smokeless tobacco? Maybe you think you can use it at times when smoking a cigarette or a vape isn’t allowed. Maybe you’re trying to quit smoking and you think that switching to smokeless tobacco is less harmful.

Using smokeless tobacco as a quick fix to get nicotine or to quit other forms of tobacco may seem like a good idea, especially if you see your buddies using it. However, no tobacco product is safe, and, as a reminder, even smokeless tobacco can only be used at designated tobacco use areas (DTUAs).

Back up — what is smokeless tobacco?

Smokeless tobacco comes in many forms, such as chew, snuff, dip or snus, and is placed between the lip or cheek and gum. The nicotine is then absorbed through the mouth tissues and into the body.

Why do people use smokeless tobacco?

Some people think using smokeless tobacco is a safer and quicker way to quit smoking. But smokeless tobacco actually contains more nicotine, the highly addictive chemical in the tobacco plant and tobacco products, than cigarettes. Thus, it is as addictive as smoking and causes intense cravings when you don’t have it. There is no proof that smokeless tobacco helps people quit smoking.

You may also be using smokeless tobacco to stay alert on duty, particularly when you have duty on aircrafts, the flightline or subs, where smoking cigarettes is not allowed. Keep in mind that the Defense Department rules are the same for all tobacco products — they may only be used in DTUAs. There are no exceptions for smokeless tobacco use.

What are the risks of smokeless tobacco?

Smokeless tobacco is harmful. In fact, some of the health effects of smokeless tobacco are the same as smoking cigarettes:

  • Impaired night vision and hearing
  • Skin wrinkles
  • Poor wound healing
  • Higher blood pressure and heart rate
  • Impaired sexual performance
  • Lowered fertility for women
  • Low birthweight and increased risk of premature births or stillbirths when used during pregnancy

Smokeless tobacco has other risks too:

  • Gum disease, tooth decay and tooth loss
  • Leukoplakia, which are white or gray spots in the mouth that can lead to cancer
  • Cancer of the mouth or tongue
  • Cancer of the esophagus and pancreas

It is never too late to quit tobacco. The benefits of quitting tobacco begin within minutes of nicotine leaving your body, such as decreased pulse rate and blood pressure, and continue for a number of years.

Support to help you quit

Here’s how you can get started:

Take advantage of the many resources to help you get started on your quit journey and consider talking to a buddy who already quit tobacco.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, contact the Military Crisis Line at 988 and press 1, or Text 838255. You can also call 911.