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Know What You’re Chewing

holding a can of chew tobacco with a pinch in two fingers

Cpl. Paul Peterson

In this Article:

  • Smokeless tobacco is highly addictive.
  • Soldiers who chew, dip, or snuff have a higher risk of cancer.
  • The ingredients in chew, dip, and snuff are plain old nasty.

Picture the fuel nozzle at a gas station pump. Odds are it’s not something you’d put in your mouth, and you’d squirm if someone else did.

So why do so many Soldiers turn a blind eye when a buddy packs a plug of dip, chew, or snuff into his mouth?

Smokeless tobacco products are made of stuff also found in motor fuel, bug sprays, and nuclear waste.

Smokeless tobacco has five times the amount of nicotine as cigarettes, making it extremely addictive. One can of chew is equal to four packs of cigarettes.

People who dip, chew, or snuff tobacco run the same risk of gum disease, heart disease, and addiction as cigarette smokers. Even worse, smokeless tobacco users run an even greater risk of getting oral cancer, which kills more than 40 percent of its victims within five years of diagnosis.

If a fellow Soldier or you are thinking about quitting, you have a lot of options. UCanQuit2.org’s text messaging program sends coaching tips, advice, and encouragement directly to your mobile device.

What’s in dip, chew and snuff?

There are some nasty ingredients in smokeless tobacco:

  • Arsenic: a poison used in insecticides, rat poison, and anchoring cement used to build houses
  • Cyanide: a poison found in chemical weapons and car exhaust
  • Polonium 210: a highly radioactive and chemically toxic element found in nuclear waste
  • N-Nitrosamines: cancer causing toxins found in brake fluid and granite counter-top cleaners
  • Formaldehyde: a cancer causing chemical found in glue and gas stoves. Also used to preserve corpses
  • Cadmium: found in motor oil and gear oil
  • Benzene: found in unleaded gasoline, car engine degreasers, insecticides, motor oil and paint
  • Lead: a poison found in high-mileage motor oil and ceramic glaze
  • Uranium 235: a toxic chemical used in nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons such as the World War II atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan.