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Smoking vs. Chewing Tobacco

By Dr. Nikita Toshi +2 more

Smoking is a severe risk to our health and can have many negative impacts on our overall fitness and well-being. While smoking is not the actual addictive that makes people its slave, it’s, in fact, the nicotine that causes the release of dopamine in the brain and ensures neurotransmission that gives the smoker a ‘high.’

And things only get worse with regular consumption.   Gradually, smokers need to take more and more nicotine to achieve this same high. Therefore, when a smoker tries to kick this habit, he/she starts to experience withdrawal symptoms.

Smoking vs chewing tobacco

Thus to quit smoking, many smokers resort to getting their regular dose of nicotine with the help of many smoke-cessation products such as nicotine gum and nicotine patches. These products give the body a daily dose of nicotine and are devoid of smoke. Another resort that many smokers take is that they start to chew tobacco, which is also laden with nicotine and doesn’t need any inhalation as such.

Types of Chewing Tobacco

Tobacco chewing happens across various forms:

  • Chew
  • Snuff
  • Pinch
  • Smokeless tobacco

Is Tobacco chewing safe?

Chewing tobacco is an extensive spread practice. But sadly this technique is often perceived as a ‘healthier alternative’ to smoking. But on the contrary, it is in fact doomed to failure.

Read more about Does Vaping Cause Cancer? Exploring The Health Implications

Smoking vs. Chewing tobacco

Both smoking and chewing of tobacco can cause significant havoc on the health front. Many studies suggest that chewing tobacco has a lower risk on the heart as compared to smoking. However, studies also show that chewing tobacco causes a sudden rise in blood pressure and heart rate.

Many chain smokers also carry the misconception that chewing tobacco results in lower consumption of nicotine. However, that’s a fallacy, both smoking and chewing tobacco results in the same consumption of nicotine. For example, if you hold an averagely sized plug in your mouth for 30 minutes, it’s the same as smoking down four cigarettes.

Chewing tobacco regularly also exposes a person to the dreaded Oral cancer, not to forget, the development of oral lesions, a black hairy tongue, and bad breath. These people also carry a high chance of contracting Leukoplakia.

To elevate the problem further, tobacco chewers need to spit. This is also adding to the problem because by doing so, you land up spreading the germs to the people around you.

Here’s a quick list of all the potential health impacts that chewing tobacco can have:

  • Poor oral health (bad breath, teeth staining)
  • Loss of bone density near the teeth
  • All types of oral cancer (gum, tongue, cheek, mouth) as well as gum disease
  • Reproductive issues like stillbirth, premature delivery (if used while pregnant)
  • Cancer of the oesophagus
  • Heart disease, heart attacks
  • Stroke
  • Nicotine overload (poisoning)
  • Tooth decay  
  • Cancer of the pancreas  

As you can see, chewing tobacco is not as ‘safe’ as you may have imagined. While the risk of heart-related conditions is lower compared to smoking, there still are many bad health effects of chewing tobacco.

Read more about Vaping: Meaning, Risks and Truths You Must Know

Alcohol and Tobacco

Drinking alcohol spikes the levels of 5 neurotransmitters in our brain, while using tobacco (in any form) 3 other neurotransmitters increase. This association of increased neurotransmitter activity is what makes you feel good, or get that high/buzz. But it also makes you crave one or the other. Hence, when you drink alcohol, your brain wants to get the effect from the remaining 3 neurotransmitters. This is why you feel cravings for a cigarette or tobacco when you drink. In simple words, alcohol and tobacco work together to make you crave more of each other, increasing your likelihood of suffering the negative health impacts from these substances.  

Also Read: What Causes Yellow Teeth: Unpacking Oral Health Misconceptions

Quit Tobacco

Since the negative effects of tobacco have long been known and studied, there has been a push in the medical community to help people get off this substance. If you are afraid of the future effects tobacco usage will have on your health, you can take steps to cut down or stop smoking.  

Luckily, there are many doctors, specialists, counsellors and products to help you on your journey. If you’re wondering how to quit smoking, we recommend the following:

  • First, speak with your regular family doctor, they may have suggestions you can follow. They may also be able to connect you with an addiction specialist.
  • Next, talk to a psychologist or therapist, these professionals are trained to help you with mental health issues.  
  • Lastly, if you are not ready to seek outside help yet, do a little research and find safe nicotine alternatives that you can use. These may include nicotine patches, nicotine gums or sprays. These alternatives come with the benefit of satisfying your body’s craving for nicotine without the harmful effects of smoking or chewing tobacco.

Also Read: Does Chewing Gum Make You Hungry? The Surprising Science Unveiled

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational/awareness purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional and should not be relied upon to diagnose or treat any medical condition. The reader should consult a registered medical practitioner to determine the appropriateness of the information and before consuming any medication. PharmEasy does not provide any guarantee or warranty (express or implied) regarding the accuracy, adequacy, completeness, legality, reliability or usefulness of the information; and disclaims any liability arising thereof.

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