Smokeless tobacco is a product that is not smoke or burned and is used by other means like chewing, inhaled through the nose as dry snuff, moist snuff, placing the product between the gum and cheek or lip, snus, etc. According to the World Health Organisation, smokeless tobacco products consist of cut, ground, powdered, or leaf of tobacco. Smokeless tobacco is found in gutkha, paan masala, zarda, khaini, and other such products. There is a very common misconception smokeless tobacco products are safer than cigarettes. This is far from the truth because several clinical studies reveal that they too harm the body.
According to Dr Mukta Kapila – Director, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram -smokeless tobacco is more harmful because most people end up consuming it more because of constant chewing and so more nicotine is taken in.
“Smokeless tobacco products are more harmful than cigarettes. Nicotine content in both is the same but in smokeless tobacco, consumption is higher because of constant chewing and so more nicotine is taken in. Also, there are more chemicals that can cause cancer,” Dr Mukta Kapila said.
According to reports, smokeless tobacco products may contain over 2,000 chemical compounds and this may contribute to chronic hypertension and elevate the risk of stroke.
Smokeless tobacco can also cause cancer and other health conditions like bad breath and stained teeth, bone loss around the teeth, esophageal cancer, gum disease, tooth decay, and tooth loss.
While there is no research about ways to quit smokeless tobacco, Dr Mukta Kapila said determination is the key.
“To get rid of the addiction one has to be determined to do it. One should take the help of a psychologist or psychiatrist and support groups. There are therapies available and nicotine replacement patches that are prescribed. Additionally, exercise and yoga to de-stress the mind. There is a lot of help available one should be willing to reach out,” she added.