Parents, your kids may not smell like cigarettes when they come home – but don’t breathe a sigh of relief just yet, they could still be addicted to nicotine! And kids – you may think that the only dangerous thing about cigarettes is the smoke – but know this: chewing tobacco is not safe! 

Over the past 5 years, the use of chewing tobacco has increased more than 30-percent among tween and teens - especially boys. In fact, more than 566,000 boys and young men are using it.

Danny McGoldrick is the research vice president for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, and he says that the smokeless tobacco industry has a history of targeting kids – because they want hook people early, and create a customer for life. 

But whether you call it smokeless tobacco, spit tobacco, chew, snuff, pinch, plug or dip – it’s not harmless. According to the Mayo Clinic, smokeless tobacco can cause serious health problems. It gets you hooked on nicotine – just like cigarettes. And it’s really hard to quit. Withdrawal from chewing tobacco can cause intense cravings, increased appetite, irritability and depression. 

It also contains high amounts of sugar, which causes cavities.

It also raises your risk of gum disease, receding gums, and tooth loss – especially on the side where you stash your “wad” of tobacco.

Smokeless tobacco also raises your heart rate, blood pressure and cholesterol, increases your risk of heart attack, and causes pre-cancerous growths – increasing your risk of cancers of the mouth, throat, cheek, gums, lips and tongue. And surgery to remove those cancers can leave your jaw, chin, neck or face disfigured.

Bottom line: Stay away from tobacco, whether it’s in a cigar, cigarette, or a can, and if you’d like help quitting, try the American Lung Association website at LungUSA.org.