What is this stuff anyway?

Smokeless tobacco goes by many names. Most types of smokeless tobacco sit in your mouth and the idea is to suck on the juice that forms, spitting often as saliva builds up.

You don’t smoke it. You don’t swallow it.

All you do is slosh it around your mouth and spit out the juice every few seconds. If it sounds disgusting, that’s because it is. It’s also extremely dangerous - no matter who you are!

People will say, “at least smokeless tobacco is better than cigarettes”. But smokeless doesn’t mean harmless. This stuff is nasty and can kill you. You could develop cancer of the mouth within the first five years of using, and all sorts of other problems can begin almost immediately. For simplicity’s sake, we’ll call it “chew.” But by
any name, it’s one dangerous and disgusting addiction.


Why shouldn’t I chew?

Quite simply, you shouldn’t chew tobacco because it’s super dangerous. First off, you’re getting a big dose of nicotine — even more than from smoking. 30 minutes with an average-size dip in your mouth gives you as much nicotine as smoking three cigarettes. Even using a bit now and then can get you addicted. And the actual taste of tobacco is gross. That’s why the tobacco industry created an assortment of flavours, desperately trying to hide the actual taste long enough for you to get hooked. When evidence clearly linked flavours and their influence on tobacco use in youth, Ontario banned flavouring in almost all tobacco products. Now the only flavour left to chew on is the tobacco itself with its cancer-causing chemicals!

What are you putting in your mouth?

You wouldn’t believe some of the things they put in this stuff. And just because you’re not swallowing the juice, doesn’t mean you’re not absorbing the chemicals. Oh, and if you do swallow, you’ll almost certainly vomit. Either way, you’re being subjected to around 3,000 chemicals. At least 28 of which cause cancer. This can be cancer of your lips, tongue, the roof of your mouth, cheeks, gums — even in your stomach lining, esophagus, and bladder. You can have it all!

Quite possibly the least sexy habit. Ever.

Even if you don’t care about your health, there are a lot of other reasons not to use chew. You will be 100% guaranteed to have horrible breath and yellowish brown stains on your teeth. About 70% of people who use it get mouth sores. And of course, you’re constantly spitting
and will have those attractive cracked and bleeding lips and gums.

So… wanna make out? Good luck.

“But I’m an athlete. It’s what we do.”

First of all, the idea that a lot of athletes use chew is false. Among athletes, chew is not common and the number of users is on the decline. Some sports leagues have even banned its use.

If you’re seeing it on your team, there are some facts you should be aware of!

  • Chew use hurts performance
  • Chew increases your heart rate, causes high blood pressure, and leads to irregular heartbeats.
  • It can cause dizziness, slow your reaction time, and make you tire quicker.
  • And in the long-term, you’re more likely to have a heart attack or stroke.

So if you want to put something in your mouth while you play sports, you’d be better off chewing on a dirty sock.. As an athlete chew does not improve your performance …it’s better to stop or never start using it!

As a coach, be aware of what your athletes are doing. Keep an eye out for the fat lip or spit bottle - tell tales signs your athletes are using chew, which will affect performance!

NOTE: We do not recommend chewing on dirty socks.


Whether you’ve tried to quit and are struggling, or you’re just beginning to realize you need to stop, we’re glad you’re here. The longer you’ve been using, the harder it’s going to be to quit. But you can do it. And we can help. The process of quitting is different for everyone. We’ll outline some tips. Look for what might work for you. And don’t give up.

Think hard about why you want to quit.

Write your reasons down on a piece of paper and keep it with you. Read it over when you’re feeling a craving coming on.

Talk to people!

Tell everyone you know that you’re quitting. Let them know that you need their support and their patience, because it’s common to be on edge for the first week or two.

Buddy up.

It’s not always possible, but it can be really helpful to pair up with someone else who’s ready to quit. Quit because YOU want to quit. It’s an individual choice to take back control. But sharing the experience with someone can help. Push each other to stick with it.

Throw it all out.

A lot of people keep a bit of chew around when they quit. Just in case. But don’t make it easy to relapse. Get rid of it and surround yourself with only positive influences.

Pay attention to your habits.

When are you most likely to chew? Do you do it more with a certain group of friends? While playing sports? After meals? It’s best to avoid situations where you know you’re likely to have a craving, but that’s not always possible. In those cases, have an alternative ready to go. Gum, hard candy, sunflower seeds — whatever works.

Get the stink out.

When you have a craving, it can help to brush your teeth. Cravings usually only last for three to five minutes, and brushing your teeth can help the feeling pass. Plus, if you’ve been a user for a while, you’ve got a lot of grossness to get rid of.

Reward yourself.

How much were you spending each week on tobacco? If you went the whole week without using, reward yourself by indulging in something else you want. You’ve got a little extra money now, and you’ve earned it.

Get help, if you need it.

I know, I know. It can be tough to ask for help. But quitting is the best thing you can do for yourself and it’s OK if you can’t do it alone. Talk to your doctor or try the Smokers’ Helpline (1-877-513-5333).

There are plenty of other places to get help, too. Here’s a list of online resources that you might want to check out. If you click through to any links, you’ll be leaving our site. We think these are good resources, but we are not responsible for their content.




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November 6, 2019

You know what is sweet? Ontario has banned the sale of flavoured tobacco in most products in the province. It all started in January 2016 when the law went into effect prohibiting the sale of all flavoured tobacco except menthol and clove. These two final flavours were banned the following year, January 2017. This was a great leap forward in the fight against the tobacco industry’s addictive products. We know the flavours made it more appealing for youth to experiment with tobacco products and are super excited to wave goodbye to the days of flavoured tobacco!

A few flavoured tobacco products like large cigars and pipe tobacco are still allowed under the law as they are not considered youth friendly.

For reference: Public Health Law Center. (May, 2017). Leading from up north: How Canada is solving the menthol tobacco problem. Retrieved from Public Health Law Centre


November 6, 2019

It’s been a few years since Major League Baseball (MLB) made a great play by updating its Major League Player Tobacco Policy. Now if you see one of your favorite players chewing on the field it’s likely bubble gum in their mouths. The MLB policy was designed to protect players’ health and ensure baseball players were good role models for their millions of young fans. The policy states that any player who made their MLB debut in or after 2017 season is prohibited from using any smokeless tobacco product at the stadium. Older players (already in the MLB before 2017) are not required to follow the policy, but they are encouraged to stop using any form of tobacco.

As well as banning chew use among players, stadiums across North America have started to make their entire sites tobacco free. As of the 2019 baseball season more than half of all MLB stadiums—16 of 30—had become completely tobacco free.

Hopefully the remaining MLB stadiums will soon join this movement, join the majority, and become tobacco free!

(For reference: Knock Tobacco out of the Park. (n.d). About the campaign. Retrieved from https://tobaccofreebaseball.org)


October 15, 2013

The 2010-11 national Youth Smoking Survey shows flavoured tobacco industry products are becoming the cancer-causing tobacco choice for a growing number of students.

Across Canada 20% of students in Grade 9-12 reported using tobacco industry products within the past 30 days including 14% who said they smoked cigarettes and 10% who reported using flavoured tobacco products in the form of chew, dip, spit, snus, waterpipe tobacco, bidis, cigars, cigarillos and menthol cigarettes. (Some students used more than one type of tobacco product.)

In Ontario that translates into 79,300 students smoking cigarettes (excludes menthol-flavoured) and 54,200 using flavoured tobacco. There were 11,500 students who said they used chew, dip or spit tobacco and 11,300 who reported using flavoured waterpipe tobacco.

Sad to say we can chalk up another win for the tobacco industry and its success in recruiting new customers with flavoured products so they can keep sales up and replace their long-term customers who keep dying on them.

The Youth Smoking Survey is taken every two years for the Propel Centre for Population Health Impact at the University of Waterloo, was conducted between Oct. 2010 and June 2011.


May 15, 2013

Tobacco has immediate, negative effects on athletic performance. If you use tobacco you can expect that during a game or sports event you will get tired faster, suffer shortness of breath sooner and your reaction time will suffer. Play to win…

Check out the Know What’s In Your Mouth link in this section for more information about chew, including the gross hairy tongue, bad teeth, bleeding gums and sores it causes in the short term, before the mouth cancer and other health problems.

And if you are already onside and want to help make your team a Tobacco-Free Sports team visit www.playlivebetobaccofree.ca

Don’t forget secondhand smoke is also going hurt your performance too. Don’t let other people smoke around the places you play and live—ask them to take it outside.


April 26, 2013

Youth in the Central East area of the province are taking action with a new video bit.ly/WeSeeYou exposes tobacco industry tactics being used to make tobacco products appear less harmful and more desirable.

But the teens make it clear that showing scenes of smoking in movies targetted to their age group and even young kids and adding fruity flavours to chew and other tobacco products isn’t going unnoticed.

Watch the video at bit.ly/WeSeeYou and join the conversation with tweets to @_WeSeeYou and using #challengetobacco.

See more on what teens are doing on the iTHINK Facebook page, facebook.com/iTHINKcampaign


You can get sucked in and then spit out by the industry as they use you to make billions, or you can be smart and make sure you Know What’s In Your Mouth!



Chew improves your concentration and overall sports performance.


Dizziness, high-blood pressure, and an elevated heart rate will not increase your sports performance.


Chew is less harmful than cigarettes.


What’s less harmful, dying of lung cancer or dying of throat cancer? Or tongue cancer? Or lip cancer? The correct answer is: they’re all a bad idea.


If I don’t use that much and not that often, I won’t get addicted.


Chew has more nicotine than cigarettes. Even a bit of chew every once in a while can get you hooked.


Everyone seems to be doing it. It can’t be that big of a deal.


Don’t be fooled. Most people don’t use tobacco. And the rates keep falling — both because people are quitting, and because long-term users are dying.


I’m using now. But I can quit anytime.


The tobacco industry has made billions of dollars because people overestimate their ability to quit. It’s an addictive drug. Quitting is hard, and it only gets harder the longer you use.


In the fall of 2011, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) challenged a group of young people to develop an awareness campaign about chewing tobacco. The result was the Know What’s in Your Mouth campaign, with the goal of increasing awareness among youth and young adults about the dangers of chewing tobacco.

The campaign focused on five key messages.

Chewing tobacco:

  • is not harmless;
  • causes negative physical effects;
  • can lead to addiction;
  • does not enhance sports performance; and
  • the tobacco industry adds candy flavouring to make it more appealing to youth.

To support the campaign, they created posters, billboards, banners, stick-it notes and lip balm, and worked with SMDHU staff to produce additional information and links for the health unit’s youth-friendly website.
A year later, the Central East Tobacco Control Area Network, which is made up of six public health units including SMDHU, decided to expand the campaign to reach young people across the province of Ontario. KnowWhatsInYourMouth.ca is a result of this expansion.