Injury Laws

Smokeless Tobacco Ramifications

Smokeless Tobacco Ramifications
What is smokeless tobacco?

Smokeless tobacco is a smokeless form of tobacco most commonly marketed as chewing tobacco, snuff and dipping tobacco. Chewing tobacco comes in shredded, twisted, or "bricked" tobacco leaves that users put between their cheek and gum and chew.  The byproduct of use is then spit out of the mouth.  Snus is a fine-grain tobacco that often comes in teabag-like pouches those users "pinch" or "dip" between their lower lip and gum.  Whether its snuff or chewing tobacco, you're supposed to let it sit in your mouth and suck on the tobacco juices, spitting often to get rid of the saliva that builds up. This chewing of the tobacco allows for the uptake of nicotine into the bloodstream.
Health Risks

The side effects and dangers associated with the use of smokeless tobacco are widespread.  Although it is marketed as safer than smoking cigarettes it is just as dangerous.  Smokeless tobacco has been linked to an increase risk for developing oral cancer including tongue, lip, check and gum cancer.  Users of smokeless tobacco products also have a higher risk of tooth loss.  Studies about the effects of smokeless tobacco on cardiovascular diseases are contradictory.  In all studies it has been shown to increase the risk of cardiovascular related conditions in individuals who use smokeless tobacco as opposed to individuals who are non-tobacco users.  However, no determination has been made that would distinguish the effects of smokeless tobacco against non-smokeless tobacco.

Just like cigarettes, smokeless tobacco contains high levels of nicotine and tar.  Some studies have shown that there is actually more nicotine in smokeless tobacco than in cigarettes. 

The health effects of Snuss, a Swedish product marketed in the U.S. by a number of major tobacco manufacturers is at this point unknown.  Extensive research in Sweden has concluded that the health effects associated with its use are low, if not at least less dangerous than those associated with cigarettes.  The life expectancy appears to indicate that there is a significant increase in life expectancy among persons who previously smoked tobacco and switch to snus. In all the overwhelming majority of studies have found that the use of snus, however dangerous, is still better than smoking, especially in the sense that it eliminates second hand smoke.


In the past there has been little litigation favoring plaintiffs in injury suits over the use of smokeless tobacco.  Past lawsuits against smokeless tobacco makers were not successful and lawyers focused more on cigarette makers due to stronger evidence to back up their claims even though smokeless tobacco is harmful.  However, a number of recent lawsuits have changed the idea of suing tobacco companies.  In 2005 there were two cases that resulted in settlement of $5 million apiece.  The suits claimed that smokeless tobacco manufacturers placed dangerous and defective products, smokeless tobacco, into the stream of commerce.  The lawsuits were for wrongful death associated with mouth and tongue cancer.

What if I have cancer as a result of using smokeless tobacco?

In the past it would have been hard to win, or even get a settlement from such a case, but now it seems that the evidence of the harm that smokeless tobacco causes is becoming more conclusive.  If you or someone you know has developed cancers of the mouth, pancreas, tongue, lips, or any other oral cancers as well as cardiovascular illnesses after using smokeless tobacco products you should consult an attorney, especially one that deals with class actions of this type.  Currently a class action against smokeless tobacco producers is in the process of seeking plaintiffs.  




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