Some consider spit tobacco, also known as smokeless tobacco, to be
a safe alternative to smoking cigarettes. In reality, the use of
smokeless tobacco can cause attrition of tooth structure, staining,
halitosis, periodontal disease, leukoplakia and cancer of the
Smokeless tobacco is defined as tobacco that is used either orally
or through the nasal cavity. There are two primary forms of
smokeless tobacco which are generally referred to as "snuff" and
Snuff is composed of finely ground tobacco which can be either
moist or dry. It is most commonly used orally by placing a portion
or "dip" in between the lip and gum and holding it in place for a
prolonged period of time. Snuff may also be used by snorting it
through the nose.
Chewing tobacco usually is shredded or loose-leaf tobacco, but can
also be found as dried bricks or twisted strands. It is primarily
used orally by placing it into the mouth and chewing. It is often
held in the mouth for prolonged periods of time.
Regardless of the way it is used, smokeless tobacco contains known
carcinogens and varying concentrations of the highly addictive drug
nicotine. The average nicotine content in one "dip" of snuff is
approximately four times that of one cigarette.
Between the years 1970 and 1987, smokeless tobacco use among young
men increased steadily, with a 40% increase in the use of moist
snuff. Data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture substantiates a
decline in the production of cigarettes and an almost three-fold
increase in the production of smokeless tobacco products over the
same time period.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's 1995 Youth Risk
Behavior Survey reported that about 20% of male high school
students used smokeless tobacco.
Data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System indicates
that the prevalence of smokeless tobacco use in Texas is
approximately 4.6% (9% among males and less than 1% for
The 1994 Texas School Survey on Substance Abuse found that the
average age for initiation of use is 10 years old, and that 29% of
secondary school students reported ever having used smokeless