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Chewing Tobacco Effects and Statistics

Chewing tobacco is known to be strongly associated with a number of major health problems, including oral cancer, high blood pressure, gum disease, reduced sperm count , and erectile dysfunction. The following statistics are public information from the CDC (Center for Disease Control)

Health Effects of Chewing Tobacco

Cancer

  • Smokeless tobacco contains 28 cancer-causing agents (carcinogens).
  • Smokeless tobacco is a known cause of human cancer; it increases the risk of developing cancer of the oral cavity.

Oral Health

  • Smokeless tobacco is also strongly associated with leukoplakia—a precancerous lesion of the soft tissue in the mouth that consists of a white patch or plaque that cannot be scraped off.
  • Smokeless tobacco is associated with recession of the gums, gum disease, and tooth decay.

Reproductive Health

  • Smokeless tobacco use during pregnancy increases the risks for preeclampsia (i.e., a condition that may include high blood pressure, fluid retention, and swelling), premature birth, and low birth weight.
  • Smokeless tobacco use by men causes reduced sperm count and abnormal sperm cells.

Nicotine Addiction

  • Smokeless tobacco use can lead to nicotine addiction and dependence.
  • Adolescents who use smokeless tobacco are more likely to become cigarette smokers.

Smokeless Tobacco Use in the United States

Percentage of Adults Who Were Current Smokeless Tobacco Users in 2009

3.5% of all adults (aged 18 years and older)
  • 7.0% of men
  • 0.3% of women
  • 1.0% of African Americans
  • 5.7% of American Indian/Alaska Natives*
  • 0.5% of Asian Americans
  • 1.1% of Hispanics
  • 4.5% of whites

Percentage of High School Students who were Current Smokeless Tobacco Users in 2009


  • 6.1% of all high school students
  • 11.0% of males
  • 1.5% of females
  • 1.8% of African Americans
  • 1.5% of Asians
  • 4.6% of Hispanics
  • 7.5% of whites

Percentage of Middle School Students who were Current Smokeless Tobacco Users in 2009


  • 2.6% of all middle school students
  • 4.1% of males
  • 1.2% of females
  • 1.7% of African Americans
  • 2.0% of Asians
  • 3.4% of Hispanics
  • 2.8% of Whites