Chewing of tobacco, also called smokeless tobacco, is equally dangerous, if not more than actually lighting up a cigarette. There are times that people might be under the myth that it is a safe alternative but that is not the case. The habit of chewing tobacco can be an extremely addictive habit that you get into once and you can be hooked. Even if you find out how dangerous it is, it becomes difficult to let go of the habit.
Also it might have never crossed your mind but the fact remains that chewing tobacco contains tons of cancer causing harsh chemical in it. It contains a host of chemicals that will bring on the worst possible kinds of cancers. If you are conscious of your health and want to lead a long and healthy life, then this is one thing that you will avoid for certain.
Effects of chewing tobacco multiply over a period of time as the body gets attuned to the habit. It has an extremely detrimental effect on your teeth. It stains them and causes a whole lot of cavities and decay. It is also one of the major caused for bad breath. Chewing of tobacco can bring on mouth cancers and affect the lungs severely.
The statistics indicate that there are 30,000 cases of new oral cancer patients being detected every year in the US. Every year almost 9,000 people die of these cancers. Men are more affected by the effects of chewing tobacco then women.
Also, the chewing of tobacco can go on to make your gums weak and also decrease the ability to taste and smell. This means that food no longer has the right kind of appeal to it and therefore the person tends to lose appetite. This in turn will bring about nutritional and vitamin deficiency which will lead to a host of other concerns. Chewing of tobacco will also go on to affect the other parts of the mouth such as the entire oral cavity, the larynx, pharynx and the esophagus. Long term continuous users of chewing tobacco are putting themselves more at a risk of dangers that are linked with it. There can also be gum recession and also the tooth being exposed and falling finally. This will also cause teeth to be sensitive to hot and cold things and get discolored. There can also be higher blood pressure and heart palpitations.
Generally smoking cessation policies in successful countries have been replicated by other countries across the world. Experience gained over the years has shown that interventions intended to assist addicted smokers are rather effective when they are embedded within a details tobacco control strategy. This strategy employs a wide range of policy and activities. Smoking cessation policies can be divided into two namely mass population approaches and interventions designed to assist motivated smokers overcome their addiction.
One key policy approach under mass population approaches is raising taxes on tobacco products. This policy has been proved time and again to be extremely effective. Raising taxes on an ongoing basis increases real prices for tobacco products and in turn will lead to falling prevalence in the use of tobacco products. Studies show that high tobacco product prices is the second most important reason why people quit smoking after feat of the dangers of smoking. World Bank studies established that on average a price hike of 10% on a pack of cigarettes has the effect of reducing the demand for cigarettes by about 4% in high income societies and by 8% in low and middle income countries.
In addition to tobacco tax policies other smoking cessation policies that are effective will include regulations on exposure to environmental tobacco smoke. This regulations will include banning smoking in public places and also enacting smoking laws that regulate tobacco use. In the United States smoking laws when properly implemented have been shown to make a dent on smoking prevalence by between 4% and 10% and overall also cause a significant number of smokers to quit smoking.
Mass media campaigns are also effective in increasing knowledge about the dangers of smoking and the benefits of stopping smoking. Broad scale campaigns are also known to effectively change and reinforce attitudes towards smoking cessation and increase acceptance of policy measures for example taxation and environmental tobacco smoke. Campaigns can also promote and support the delivery of and facilitate access to smoking cessation services.
Other policy initiatives will include community wide competitions such as Quit and Win aimed at motivating smokers to stop smoking. These types of initiatives have been successfully tried in several parts of the world. for example in the WHO European Region over 30 countries participated in the 2000 campaign. Follow-up studies show that after 12 months on average 20% of the participants managed to remain tobacco-free. However, participation rates, abstinence rates and consequently the effects on the population varied widely from country to country.
Interventions designed to help motivated smokers to overcome their dependence will include telephone help-lines. These are two thronged. they can be reactive which allow smokers to call for help and reactive in which professional counselors ring callers back and give support on an ongoing basis. It can be noted that proactive telephone counseling can be more effective than intervention without personal contact. Quit smoking patients are known to develop trust and are motivated when they have a personalized support system to their efforts.
Other smoking cessation effective policies include tobacco dependence treatment. This will include brief opportunistic advice to stop smoking from a health care professional, face-to-face behavioral support and use of pharmacy medications such as nicotine replacement therapy. Research work shows that commercially available NRT products are effective to the extent of increasing the average six month quit rate by about 1.5 to 2 fold.
Nicotine is an active chemical substance present in tobacco that contributes to the negative reputation of tobacco. This chemical, when abused (through smoking or chewing) has harmful effects on the human body and it is also found to be as addictive as illegal drugs. The below are a few harmful and addictive effects of nicotine on humans, later followed by long and short-term effects.
Tobacco harms every organ of the body. It affects lungs, heart, kidneys, digestive system, liver, eyes and many other vital organs in the body. Further, people who smoke tobacco get their sense of smell and taste weakened.
Also 'passive smoking' or 'secondhand smoking' harms non-smokers. The tobacco smoke contains harmful chemicals. When inhaled by non-smokers in the smoker's proximity, it causes coughing, phlegm and decline in the functionality of the lungs. Studies show that it can cause heart diseases even among non-smokers who are subjected to secondhand smoking.
Nicotine is absorbed into the body when an individual smokes or chews tobacco. Nicotine causes elevation of mood. This is the principal reason for nicotine causing addiction. The nicotine absorbed by a smoker reaches the brain via blood. This leads to numerous chemical reactions in the brain and causes feeling of high. It lasts for a short span. Once the nicotine level declines, there is no longer the high-feeling. To have a similar feeling again, the smoker has to smoke again, thus it causes addiction.
Short-term effects of tobacco:
In the short-term, nicotine is found to cause high blood pressure, increased pulse rate and cough. The abuse of nicotine also has immediate effects on oral cavity which causes bad breath and staining of teeth. In severe cases, it may also lead to oral cancer.
•Bad breath: Smoking tobacco or chewing tobacco causes severe bad breath in the individual. Bad breath is because the nicotine, tar and other chemicals in tobacco get deposited in your oral cavity. The chemicals in tobacco drastically reduce the formation of saliva in your mouth, causing dry mouth, thus leading to the growth of odor causing bacteria.
•Stained teeth: When you smoke or chew tobacco, the chemicals like tar, nicotine and others burn and undergo chemical reaction producing sticky substances. When you take the smoke in by inhaling, the sticky substances in the smoke get deposited on your teeth and thus cause stains.
•Smoker's cough: Coughing is a protective physiological mechanism in order to remove irritants from the body, especially from the respiratory tract. Smoking damages cilia, the protective structure in the respiratory tract. When Cilia becomes defunct, harmful particles like dust, the chemicals from tobacco, etc. are deposited in the respiratory tract. Over a period of time, the body removes the accumulation of these foreign substances by coughing. Thus, the smoker suffers from heavy cough.
•Increased heart rate and blood pressure: Nicotine causes increased heart rate and blood pressure. This is because nicotine reduces oxygen supply to the heart and thus makes it less functional. Further, it makes blood vessels narrow because of the formation of blood clots. It thus, causes increased workload on the heart; hence, there is increased heart rate. All these factors cause increased blood pressure.
Long-term effects of nicotine include addiction, increased risk of heart diseases, and decline in insulin levels, cancer and premature aging. Long-term effects of nicotine are very harmful and may also lead to fatalities in many cases.
Addiction and dependence: As the effect of nicotine on the body is temporary, to enhance the feeling the smoker gets addicted and dependent on the drug in the long-term. Further, the body develops tolerance to the chemical, and thus needs increased amount subsequently and thus perpetuates the intake causing addiction and dependence in the long-term.
Increased risk of heart diseases: There is increased risk of heart diseases in the long-term due to nicotine addiction. Nicotine causes narrowing down of the blood canals. It is because nicotine gets attached to its receptor proteins in the blood vessel and stays there and thus causes constriction of blood canals.
Also, in the long-term, nicotine damages the lining of blood vessels that leads to deposition of cholesterol in the blood vessels. This may ultimately lead to a heart attack.
Inhibits the release of insulin: Nicotine leads to reduction in the secretion of insulin that is essential in absorption of carbohydrates in the body. Normally, when the glucose level rises because of food intake, insulin comes to the rescue by reducing the glucose levels. In smokers, this is not the case; insulin is released in less quantity. When glucose levels are present in higher levels than required in blood, it may cause harm to the heart and kidneys.
May lead to cancer: Nicotine as a causative substance of cancer is debatable. The other chemicals in tobacco like tar containing cyanide, benzene, formaldehyde, etc. are said to cause cancer. These chemicals are released in the body when tar enters because of smoking, over a long period.
Smokers look older than they actually are. This is because of the effect of nicotine on the production and functioning of antioxidants in the body - responsible for fighting free radicals in the body formed due to environmental pollution, stress, etc. Antioxidants make the skin and other soft tissues look young.
In the United States alone, tobacco use is responsible for one in five deaths, primarily from cardiovascular diseases, lung cancer, other types of cancer and respiratory diseases. In North America, approximately 75% of all oral cancers are associated with tobacco use and alcohol consumption. At least 80% of oral cancer patients are smokers, and oral cancer patients who continue smoking after treatment are much more likely to develop another head or neck cancer.
Tobacco use is also linked to other types of oral health problems, ranging from serious (increased risk of periodontal disease) to social (bad breath) including:
- Periodontal disease
- Increased severity of periodontal disease
- Gum recession
- Sticky tar deposits on teeth
- Brown staining on teeth
- "Smoker's palate" (a red inflammation on the roof of the mouth)
- Delayed wound healing
- Tooth decay (possibly a secondary effect due to large amounts of sugar in smokeless products or less frequent dental check-ups)
- Tooth abrasion (possibly due to the sand and grit in processed tobacco; also seen in pipe smokers, from clenching the pipe between teeth)
- Diminished blood flow to oral area
- Altered taste
- Bad breath
- Black hairy tongue oral lesions
- Precancerous changes in soft tissue
Tobacco use is also related to many other problems, including cancers of the larynx, esophagus, pancreas and bladder, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic bronchitis and other respiratory diseases, gastric ulcers, low birth weight babies and spontaneous abortions. All tobacco products, cigarettes, smokeless/spit tobacco, cigars, and pipes, are associated with oral cancer.
Logic alone indicates that tobacco use has effects on teeth, gums, tissues and bones. Cigarettes and other types of tobacco products contain many irritants, toxins, and carcinogens. Pipe and cigar tobacco contain sulfur. More than one-fifth of the content of some brands of smokeless tobacco is sugar. Smokeless tobacco also contains over 2,000 chemicals, many of which have been directly related to causing cancer.
The most significant preventive measure used to prevent the health problems caused by tobacco use is to stop using tobacco products. The risk of developing oral cancer drops rapidly when a smoker ceases tobacco use. After ten years of not using tobacco, an ex-smoker/user's risk of oral cancers is about the same as that for someone who has never smoked.
To stop smoking, or using tobacco products, is much more easily said than done. The nicotine found in substantial amounts in tobacco products is widely considered to be a powerfully addicting drug. But it's important to remember that, while it will be difficult, ceasing to use tobacco has immediate health benefits, including increased life expectancy and reduced risk of tobacco related diseases and conditions.