Ohio Dental Association Not Giving Lip Service to New Smokeless Tobacco Product

November 1, 2001

The Ohio Dental Association (ODA) strongly advocates against the use of smokeless tobacco products because of their harmful effects-particularly the strong link to oral cancer. As a result, the ODA discounts the advertising hype that appears

The Ohio Dental Association (ODA) strongly advocatesagainst the use of smokeless tobacco products because of their harmful effects—particularlythe strong link to oral cancer. As a result, the ODA discounts the advertisinghype that appears to be surrounding a new smokeless tobacco product calledRevel, a "socially acceptable" alternative to cigarettes. Youngstown,Ohio, is one of two cities where Revel will initially be marketed for6 months.

Smokeless tobacco, in any form, is dangerous to health, said Clevelanddentist Dr. Bruce Grbach, chairman of the ODA’s council on communication andpublic service, which oversees Operation TACTIC (Teens Against Chewing Tobaccoin the Community)—a program aimed at discouraging use and raising awareness ofthe harmful effects of smokeless tobacco products among elementary through highschool students.

Nicotine in Any Form Is Harmful

Dr. Grbach questions the use of Revel as an alternative to smoking, statingthat nicotine in any form is harmful. "There are a number of studies thatdemonstrate that smokeless tobacco is dangerous and can cause oral cancer. Thisnew product is a form of smokeless tobacco, and consumers should know that usingthis product exposes them to risks of oral cancer."

Revel is being introduced only in Youngstown, Ohio, and Topeka, Kansas, bythe US Smokeless Tobacco Co. It is described as a form of smokeless tobacco thatdoes not induce the need to expectorate, with no unpleasant tobacco flavor, andthat is "a blend of premium tobaccos and fresh mint flavor in clean andneat, discrete, easy-to-use packs." Users will need to spit the wet packetout when finished.

Dr. Nancy Goorey, DDS, of Columbus, who has been active for years in programsthat discourage the use of smokeless tobacco and is current chair of the ODA’sSports Dentistry Consultants, said that while Revel is said to be designed foradults, it is clearly intended for new users as well. Furthermore, it is not thetaste but the nicotine, that attracts users. "Addicted individuals are notconcerned with taste, but rather with results. The flavored brands of smokelessor spit tobacco are used to initiate new users, making the taste palatable whileaddicting the individual with nicotine—and putting them at risk for cancerbecause of the carcinogens."

In addition to nicotine, smokeless tobacco products often contain ingredientssuch as cadmium (used in car batteries), formaldehyde (for embalming),benzopyrene (cancer-causing agent), and other chemicals.

In a 1999 study, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),reported that these moist tobacco products were "a major public healthproblem in the United States." The report also said "the use ofsmokeless tobacco can cause oral cancer and oral leukoplakia, and is a riskfactor for cardiovascular disease and nicotine addiction." The study statedfurther that there is a substantial difference in the amount of nicotine in eachproduct, with higher levels meaning greater absorption into the blood and agreater potential for nicotine addiction.

Smokeless Tobacco Facts

Other statistics pertinent to smokeless tobacco use include the following:

  • Tobacco-related diseases cost Ohio’s economy $3.4 billion annually.According to the Coalition for a Healthier Ohio, each Ohio household pays $350in state and federal taxes for tobacco-caused health costs.

  • About 30,100 new cases of oral and oropharyngeal cancer will bediagnosed in the United States in 2001, with 7,800 people dying of thesediseases, the American Cancer Society (ACS) reports.

  • In 1986, the US Surgeon General determined that using smokelesstobacco is not a safe substitute for smoking cigarettes or cigars.

  • The ACS reports that the risk for oral cancer is higher among thosewho use snuff and smokeless tobacco products compared to those who do not.

  • The ACS also reports that the risk of cancer of the cheek and gum mayincrease 50 times among long-term users of smokeless tobacco products.

  • The US Department of Agriculture reports that production of moistsnuff in the United States was substantially higher in the last decade—up toan estimated 63 million pounds in 1999, compared to 43 million pounds in 1989.

  • Leukoplakia, a disease characterized by white patches and orallesions on the cheeks, gums, or tongue, develops in 60% to 78% of smokelesstobacco users. More than half show symptoms within 3 years of starting tobaccouse, according to the National Center for Tobacco-Free Kids.

  • In the 2000 Ohio Youth Tobacco Survey, conducted by the OhioDepartment of Health, 2.8% of students in Ohio’s middle schools and 5.5% ofthose in high schools reported using smokeless tobacco on school property in theprevious 30 days.

  • Chewing tobacco contains 28 carcinogens, including tobacco-specificnitrosamines, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) reports.

  • The NCI also points out that smokeless tobacco users absorb two tothree times more nicotine than do those who smoke cigarettes.

  • Smokeless tobacco users increase their risk of cancers of the oralcavity, throat, larynx, and esophagus.

Source: Ohio Dental Association (http://www.oda.org).