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.

“Tobacco-Free” Products

You may have seen ads for “tobacco-free” products at a gas station or online. These ads show people having fun in places where traditional tobacco products, like cigarettes, are not allowed, like at work, in nightclubs or sporting arenas. The tobacco industry has recently started promoting these “tobacco-free” products. They tend to come in colorful packages that look like mint containers and are available in a tobacco flavor, as well as flavors like peppermint, spearmint and orange. Some e-cigarettes or vapes are also being advertised as “tobacco-free.” What you should know is these ads do not tell the whole story.

What Does “Tobacco-Free” Mean?

Products advertised as “tobacco-free” contain nicotine that is either fully created in a lab (in other words, synthetic nicotine or non-tobacco nicotine), or that was created from tobacco plants using a process that removes all the tobacco while leaving the nicotine. The nicotine comes in a pouch, lozenge or e-liquid (the liquid heated by e-cigarettes). The pouches contain nicotine, flavorings, sweeteners and plant fibers. Although there are no tobacco leaves in these products, they are still considered tobacco products and regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Are “Tobacco-Free” Products Addictive?

“Tobacco-free” products are addictive. They contain nicotine, the chemical that keeps people hooked on cigarettes, e-cigarettes and smokeless tobacco. This label can cause confusion. One study found that over a quarter of young adults believed “tobacco-free” meant there was no nicotine in these products. The nicotine in “tobacco-free” nicotine products is as addictive as the nicotine in other tobacco products like cigarettes or chew.

Are “Tobacco-Free” Products Safer Than Other Tobacco Products?

The advertising for “tobacco-free” products might make you think these products are safer than other tobacco products. Studies have shown that people think e-cigarettes advertised as “tobacco-free” are less harmful than e-cigarettes that are not advertised as “tobacco-free.” However, there is no evidence showing these products are safer to use than other tobacco products. Because these products have only been available for a few years, studies about their long-term risks are still in progress. In the short-term, “tobacco-free” products can cause gum irritation, sore mouth, hiccups and nausea.

Can “Tobacco-Free” Products Help You Quit?

“Tobacco-free” products have not been shown to help people quit using tobacco products such as cigarettes or smokeless tobacco. If you are ready to start living tobacco free and want some support to do it, nicotine replacement therapies like patches or gum might be a good strategy to help make the next time you quit the last time. Speak with your health care provider first and check out some resources here.

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.