Smokeless tobacco

Icon of a container of smokeless tobaccoSmokless tobacco isn't a safe alternative to smoking. Here's why:


  • Nicotine is absorbed through the mouth, gets into the blood, and then the brain. It stays in the blood long after you spit out the tobacco.
  • People who use smokeless tobacco and smokers have very similar levels of nicotine in their blood. But, research suggests the drug stays in the blood longer for smokeless tobacco users than for smokers.
  • Smokeless tobacco contains 28 carcinogens – substances known to cause cancer. It's linked to cancers of the mouth, esophagus and pancreas.
  • Smokeless tobacco users have higher rates of mouth and throat cancer. If you have leathery white patches in your mouth, get checked by a doctor immediately!
  • Smokeless tobacco is linked to gum decay, painful mouth sores and tooth loss.
  • New smokeless tobacco products dissolve in your mouth, so you don’t have to spit. The FDA warns that long-term effects of these products aren’t known, but they’re likely just as dangerous, if not more so, then typical smokeless tobacco.

More to consider

  • Expectant mothers who use smokeless tobacco are at higher risk of early delivery and stillbirth.
  • Men are much more likely to use smokeless tobacco. Native American and white men are the largest consumers.
  • The five top smokeless tobacco manufacturers spent nearly $685 million on advertising and promotion in 2015. Ad campaigns often target areas where traditional smoking may not be allowed.
  • Spitting tobacco on the ground instead of a proper receptacle is littering, and it puts living things in the environment at risk.