The Definition of Chewing Tobacco

Chewing Tobacco is a smokeless tobacco product. It is produced from loose leaf, pellets and plug of the tobacco plant. The tobacco then goes through a production process of leaf curing, cutting, fermentation and then it is sweetened to taste.  When consumed chewing tobacco is placed between the upper lip and teeth or between the cheek and gum and chewing the tobacco. In order to release the flavor and nicotine within the tobacco it must be chewed. Any juices remaining in the mouth are then spit out, this is known at chewing tobacco spat.

Types of Chewing Tobacco

  • Loose Leaf Tobacco
  • Plug Tobacco
  • Twist Tobacco
  • Tobacco Bits

Chewing Tobacco Use

Chewing Tobacco is used for the drug nicotine found within it. It is a highly addictive substance that has psychoactive effects. Chewing Tobacco acts as both a stimulant and a relaxant, many who use chewing tobacco state that it calms them. Baseball players throughout history commonly use chewing tobacco as a way to “take the edge off”.

Health Effects of Chewing Tobacco Use

According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, Chewing Tobacco is known to increase the risk for leukoplakia, a cause of oral, mouth and throat cancers. Nicotine found within chewing tobacco is know to increase blood pressure and heart rate in the user. It stimulates endothelial cell growth and could cause microvascular injury. Regular use of chewing tobacco often results in a tolerance of the substance, causing the user to increase their tobacco intake. Increased and prolonged use of chewing tobacco commonly results in a physical and psychological addiction with withdrawal syndrome.

Chewing Tobacco Addiction

Regular use of chewing tobacco often results in a physical and psychological dependency.  Nicotine found in chewing tobacco acts by affecting the mesolimbic pathway (“reward system”), increasing dopamine levels and causing feelings of euphoria and pleasure. These feelings while using add to chewing tobacco’s addictive effects. When stopping the use of chewing tobacco the addict will experience a drop in dopamine levels that is followed by various withdrawal symptoms.

Chewing Tobacco Withdrawal Symptoms

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Falling heart rate and blood pressure
  • Fatigue, drowsiness, and insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Increased hunger and caloric intake
  • Increased desire for the taste of sweets
  • Tobacco cravings

Chewing Tobacco Addiction Treatment

Quitting chewing tobacco causes a wide variety of withdrawal symptoms that can be overwhelming and often sends the addict back to the substance for comfort. When addicted to chewing tobacco the best way of quitting its use is with medical assistance if cold turkey does not work. Modern medical advances have created nicotine replacement medications, such as the patch or gums, to slowly wean the addict from the nicotine in their system from chewing tobacco use. There are also medications such as Chantix that helps relieve the body of cravings from chewing tobacco, relieve symptoms of withdrawal and cause the addict to feel physically ill when using chewing tobacco. To determine which will be the best treatment option for you contact a medical professional.