Chewing tobacco, also called smokeless tobacco, snuff, pinch, dip or chew, is a tobacco product that is placed in the mouth between the lip and gum. It’s more popular than you might think, with about 3% of the America population using it on a regular basis. While it doesn’t compete with cigarettes or cigars in terms of numbers of users, that doesn’t mean it’s a safe alternative to smoking.

Like cigarette or cigar smokers, chewing tobacco users run the risk of gum disease, heart disease, and nicotine addiction. They are at a higher risk for oral cancer, mouth lesions, and tooth decay, though. Every year more than 30,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral and pharyngeal (throat) cancer and approximately 8,000 die from it.

Any form of nicotine addiction, whether it be cigarettes, cigars, or chewing tobacco, can be really tough to kick. If you’re serious about quitting, it’s best to talk first with your health care professional. He or she can recommend over-the-counter or prescription medications that might help. He or she may also recommend an exercise or relaxation routine to assist with the cravings. Switching from smoking to smokeless tobacco isn’t going to do you any good in the long, run, however. If you need something to distract your mouth, try chewing sugar-free gum or hard candy.

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