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Is Snuff Harmful?

What is Snuff?

Snuff is a tobacco product and just like cigarettes it contains harmful chemicals that are known to increase the risk of many health problems. The exposure of these chemicals is lower in snuff than compared with the other smoked tobacco products such as cigarettes, pipe tobacco, and chewing tobacco. Snuff is produced when tobacco is dried and finely grounded.

Snuff is considered unhealthy as it may lead to substance use disorder. It is used by inhaling the ground tobacco into the nasal cavity. It is also moistened and used by putting tobacco in between the lower lip and gums or cheeks. It gets absorbed in the lining of the nose or the mouth.

A report from the National Cancer Institute and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that more than 40 types of smokeless tobacco are used by nose and mouth by more than 300 million people from around the world.(1)

Is Snuff Harmful?

Smokeless tobacco is extremely harmful to health as it can lead to addiction.(2) It contains chemicals that can cause cancer. According to the American Cancer Society chewing or sipping tobacco can be equally harmful as smoking cigarettes. In fact, there is additional exposure to 25 other chemicals.(3)

Smokeless tobacco contains tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNAs), which are the strongest cancer-causing substances. Their level varies in different products. Those with higher levels contain a greater negative risk of health effects.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smokeless tobacco can lead to the risk of oral, esophageal, and pancreatic cancers.(1) It may also:

  • Increase the risk of death from heart diseases and stroke.
  • Increase the chances of premature birth and stillbirth.
  • Leads to nicotine poisoning, if children ingest it accidentally.

According to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, 18-21 years is the minimum age to use all tobacco products.(4)

What is Snus?

Snus is a moist snuff that originated from Sweden. It has been used in Sweden for a long and now a modern version of it is available and gaining popularity. It is available in flavors and does not require spitting, as in tobacco.

Risks Associated with Snuff

All the tobacco-containing products including snuff containing chemicals and nicotine that may be addictive.

Health risks of snuff are as follows:


Snuff may increase the risk of cancer of the throat, pancreas, and mouth. It may also increase the risk of precancerous lesions called leukoplakia, which is white patches in the mouth that can turn into cancer.

Heart disease

Snuff increases the risk of heart disease similar to the people who smoke and its withdrawal is equally difficult.

Dental Problems

Snuff is known to increase the risk of mouth and throat cancer and along with this can also increase the risk of dental problems as well. Chewing tobacco may contain a lot of sugar and since tobacco is held against the teeth it can cause decay and dental irritation.

Smokeless tobacco may increase the risk of swollen gum and receding gums. It can cause stains on the teeth and causes bad breath. It causes bone loss around the teeth and can expose the root of the tooth. This can loosen the tooth making it fall off.

Risk of Poisoning

Smokeless tobacco may lead to a risk of poisoning. They look like candy and children may ingest them. It can also lead to vomiting, convulsions, trouble breathing, weakness, and unresponsiveness.

Is it Possible to Quit Snuff?

When a person quits tobacco, he may develop the following symptoms:

Being really addictive, snuff can be extremely difficult to quit. A doctor can help develop a plan to quit.

Nicotine Replacement Therapy

When a person quits nicotine, he might experience unpleasant symptoms. In such cases, nicotine replacement therapy is given. In this therapy doses of nicotine without harmful chemicals are given. Nicotine patches, lozenges, gums, and other nicotine-containing products can be obtained from drug stores.

Prescription Medication

A few prescription medications can help in quitting tobacco.


A mental health counselor can help in recovering from tobacco addiction. They may help in managing the symptoms and triggers and maintain motivation.

Social Support

There are large social groups that may help deal with nicotine addiction.

Not everyone prefers one-on-one counseling, some opt for such large group support.

Friends and family may also help come out of addiction. Making them aware of the goals and letting them know how they can help you, can help them in providing you the needed support.

Breaking snuff addiction is not easy. But with support and help, the use of these products can be stopped. This journey may be different for everyone. It is important for one to know the goals, as it may help them win it.

Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:December 15, 2021

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