Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of disease and early death in the United States. Even though cigarette smoking has slowly declined in the United States, many alternatives have gained popularity.
Examples of alternative tobacco and nicotine delivery products include:
- E-cigarettes or “vaping”
- Smokeless tobacco
These come in various forms, sizes, and flavors.
Alternative tobacco products contain harmful chemicals and toxins that have health risks. The chemicals and toxins may cause serious health problems, including cancer. Because of the risks, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) started regulating these products in 2016.
If you smoke or use these products, talk with your doctor. Ask about ways to quit.
E-cigarettes or “vaping”
Electronic cigarettes are also known as e-cigarettes, e-cigs, or vapor cigarettes. They are battery-operated devices.
Some e-cigarettes look like traditional cigarettes. Other devices, such as tank systems, do not look like cigarettes.
These devices do not burn tobacco. Instead, they have cartridges filled with nicotine and other chemicals. The e-cigarette heats the liquid chemicals into a vapor or steam that a person inhales, which is why using these is often called “vaping”.
E-cigarettes contain harmful substances. But the types or concentrations of toxins vary by brand, type of device, and how it is used. They have only been readily available in the United States since 2006. As a result, there is limited research on their long-term health risks.
While many people may turn to e-cigarettes as a way to try to stop smoking, the research available has not shown that they are helpful for quitting. As such, the FDA has not approved e-cigarettes as a way to quit smoking. Doctors and the FDA recommend evidence-based methods for quitting smoking. Learn more about ways to quit smoking and using tobacco.
Smokeless tobacco products contain tobacco or tobacco blends. They have many names. And they fall into several categories.
Chewing tobacco. This is tobacco in the following forms:
- Loose leaves
- Leaves pressed together, commonly called a plug
- Leaves twisted together to resemble a rope, commonly called a twist
Chewing tobacco sits between the cheek and gum. Usually the person spits out the tobacco juices. But long-time users may swallow some of the juices.
Snuff. This is finely ground tobacco. It comes in dry or moist forms. It is sometimes packaged in ready-to-use pouches.
People usually sniff or swallow dry snuff. In contrast, people place moist snuff between the gum and lip or cheek. Then, it slowly absorbs.
Snus. This is a tobacco product that originated in Sweden. Typically, manufacturers package the moist tobacco powder in a pouch. People place it inside the cheek for absorption. They do not swallow the pouch. It must be thrown away after use.
Tobacco companies often market snus to people who smoke cigarettes because it is allowed in smoke-free areas. But public health advocates worry that snus does not help efforts to reduce tobacco use.
Dissolvable tobacco. This is compressed powdered tobacco. It resembles a small, hard candy that dissolves in the mouth.
Dangers of smokeless tobacco products
Prolonged use of smokeless tobacco products