Life Style

Smoking vs Chewing Tobacco: Which Is More Harmful; Know From Doctor On No Smoking Day

Consumption of tobacco in any way is dangerous for the health. Smoking and chewing tobacco are both common forms of tobacco use, each carrying significant health risks, albeit through different mechanisms. Smoking tobacco involves inhaling burned tobacco leaves through cigarettes, cigars, or pipes, exposing the lungs to harmful chemicals like tar, carbon monoxide, and nicotine. These substances can lead to numerous health problems, including lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema, bronchitis, and heart disease. The inhalation of tobacco smoke also increases the risk of developing various cancers outside the lungs, such as throat, mouth, esophageal, and bladder cancers.

Chewing tobacco, on the other hand, involves placing tobacco leaves or a tobacco mixture in the mouth and chewing or sucking on them. This exposes the mouth, gums, and throat to carcinogens, including nitrosamines, which can cause oral cancers, gum disease, tooth decay, and loss of teeth. Chewing tobacco like smoking also contains nicotine, which can lead to addiction and increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular issues. Additionally, prolonged use of chewing tobacco can result in leukoplakia, a condition characterized by white patches in the mouth that can potentially develop into cancerous lesions.

Which is more harmful?

While both smoking and chewing tobacco are addictive and harmful, Dr Vivek Anand Padegal (Director – Pulmonology, Fortis Hospital, Bannerghatta Road, Bangalore) explains that smoking is more detrimental due to its association with a higher risk of lung diseases, such as lung cancer, COPD, and emphysema. Smoking also affects not only the individual but also those exposed to secondhand smoke, increasing their risk of developing similar health problems.

Effects Of Smoking On Health-

-Smoking causes cancer

-Secondhand exposure contributes to approximately 41,000 deaths among nonsmoking adults and 400 deaths in infants each year, as per CDC.

-Sudden infant death syndrome due to secondhand smoking and acute respiratory infections

-Causes problems of the immune system

-Increases the risk of tuberculosis and rheumatoid arthritis

– Causes heart disease, stroke and blood circulation problems

Despite these differences, both smoking and chewing tobacco are major contributors to preventable diseases and premature death worldwide. Efforts to reduce tobacco use involve public health campaigns, smoking cessation programs, tobacco control policies, and increased awareness of the health risks associated with tobacco consumption. Quitting smoking or chewing tobacco can significantly improve overall health and reduce the risk of developing tobacco-related illnesses.

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