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Drugs & Health Blog

Snuff It, Chew It, Snort It, Hookah-Pipe It. Tobacco by Any Other Name Is Still Tobacco, and It Causes Cancer.

This blog post is archived and is no longer being updated. For the latest content, please visit the main Drugs & Health Blog page.
The NIDA Blog Team

While most people know that smoking cigarettes puts you at risk for cancer (and many other diseases), they tend to give a pass to other forms of tobacco, thanks to a lot of myths put out there by people trying to sell it. Somehow tobacco cigarettes’ bad reputation has seemed to “lift up” other ways of using tobacco. While we’ve moved on from the Marlboro man (well, actually they’ve moved on, too: At least four of them have died of smoking-related causes), there’s still a mystique around other ways of using it.

So, let’s be clear: No tobacco product is safe.

Hookah hype. A hookah burns flavored tobacco and passes the smoke through water before a user inhales it. A lot of people think the water somehow makes hookah smoke safe, but that’s just a myth. Tobacco contains the same tar and other chemicals when used in a hookah as it does in cigarettes—plus with a hookah you’re inhaling carbon monoxide from the charcoal used to heat the tobacco.

People also tend to smoke a lot in one sitting with a hookah. An hour-long hookah smoking session could have you inhaling 100 to 200 times as much smoke as you’d get from a single cigarette!

Keep the tweed, lose the pipe. Tobacco pipes allow people to burn loose tobacco in one end and inhale or taste the smoke from the other. People also sometimes use pipe tobacco to make their own cigarettes. Despite a lot of myths about pipes being safer, your risk of getting cancer is no less with them than if you just smoked cigarettes.

Cuban food = good. Cuban cigars = not good. Despite myths about some kinds of tobacco being superior, all cigars and cigarillos are still just rolled bundles of dried and cured tobacco. Cigars can be flavored, which some worry could make them more appealing to young people. But as with pipes, cigars seem safer (read: myth) because they don’t require you to inhale the smoke. If only. The health risks are just as great as with cigarettes.

Dissolvable tobacco is no Tic-Tac. Products that melt in your mouth—like strips, lozenges, orbs or sticks—and contain finely ground tobacco are pretty new to the market, so research about their health risks is just getting underway. But we already know that these products are another way to get hooked on nicotine.

Don’t inhale, don’t get hooked? MYTH!

  • Chewing tobacco: This is a type of smokeless tobacco that is placed between the cheek and gums. It’s just as addictive as cigarettes. Smokeless tobacco can also cause cancer, mouth sores, and gum disease.
  • Snuff: Another type of smokeless tobacco, snuff is often dried and finely ground so users can snort it up their noses (ewww). It is also sold moist and consumed in the same way as chewing tobacco. And like other forms of tobacco, snuff is addictive, thanks to nicotine, and can cause cancer.
  • Snus: Snus have the same old tobacco as chewing tobacco and snuff, but in little pouches, kind of like teabags.

Whatever tobacco product you come across, remember that the reason it’s being sold is to make a profit…and the best way to get repeat customers is to get them addicted (literally) to what you’re selling. Beware of the myths put out there by people trying to make a buck off of your addiction.

Comments posted to the Drugs & Health Blog are from the general public and may contain inaccurate information. They do not represent the views of NIDA or any other federal government entity.


What is this suppose to men.
What is this suppose to mean with drugs.
Didn;t mention E-cigs, they're just as dangerous.
"People also tend to smoke a lot in one sitting with a hookah. An hour-long hookah smoking session could have you inhaling 100 to 200 times as much smoke as you’d get from a single cigarette!" Wow, this opens up a new addiction domain--imagine those hookah users trying to quit! The nicotine potency is so much more. What about their WS S/S?
tabacco is bad and should not be used cause it can kill you
You didn't really talk about the real drugs at all !!!!
you didn't talk about the drugs abuse!!!
Drug abuse??? Really??? Who cares! Everyone who abuse drugs knows it's illegal whether it is their prescriptions or not plus the damage it does on your body is expected. I'd understand if there was a pandemic of children doing hard drugs but there isn't but lots of kids smoke
There is no such thing as a safe tobacco product! Unfortunately, tobacco in any form will always be legal since the government collects "sin taxes" and the tobacco lobby also is a major contributor of campaign funds. We just have to continue educate ourselves and our children.
Who cares about the illegal drugs?????? It's outrageous that tobacco is legal in this country and it's as deadly as it is with causing cancer, emphysema and god knows what else.
.esle tahw swonk dog dna amesyhpme, recnec gnisuac htiw si ti sa yldaed sa s'ti dna yrtnuoc siht ni lagel si occabot taht suoegartuo s'tI ??????sgurd lagelli eht tuoba serac ohW