Smoking, Non-Cigarette Alternatives

There is no such thing as a healthy tobacco product. Many non-cigarette alternatives are often marketed as healthier alternatives to smoking, but tobacco is harmful to your oral health and overall health. Quitting is the only way to decrease your risk of tobacco-related health problems.

According to the American Cancer Society, these are some of the most common non-cigarette alternatives and descriptions:

  • Electronic Cigarettes: Small refillable devices that look like cigarettes and use battery power to vaporize nicotine solutions so they can be inhaled. There is little regulation of e-cigarettes and no standards to control the levels of contaminants, including cancer-causing agents (carcinogens). There have also been reports of e-cigarette explosions and fires in the oral cavity while smoking. Further studies are needed to fully understand the effects of e-cigarettes on your dental and overall health.

    A December 2016 report released by the United States Surgeon General declared use of e-cigarettes by young people a "major public health concern." According to the report, use of e-cigarettes by young people has risen dramatically since 2011, and more high school students use e-cigarettes than regular cigarettes. Nicotine exposure in young people, no matter how it is delivered, can affect brain development and lead to addiction.

  • Snuff: Finely ground tobacco packaged in cans or pouches. Can be sold dry or moist.

  • Snus: Finely ground form of moist snuff that that contains carcinogens—cancer-causing agents called tobacco-specific nitrosamines—and is usually packaged in small pouches. 

  • Smokeless Tobacco: Also referred to as chewing tobacco, oral tobacco, spitting tobacco, dip, chew, and snuff.

  • Dissolvable Tobacco: Sweet, candy-like tobacco lozenges that contain tobacco and nicotine and are designed to be held in the mouth, chewed, or sucked until they dissolve and the juices are swallowed.

  • Hookah: The ACS describes hookah as “burning tobacco that has been mixed with flavors such as honey, molasses, or fruit in a water pipe and inhaling the flavored smoke through a long hose.” They been shown to contain concentrations of toxins, and the World Health Organization reports that one hookah smoking session is the same as smoking 100 cigarettes.

  • Cigars: Little cigars are brown and look similar to cigarettes are often flavored or filtered. Larger cigars are called cigarillos, blunts, or cheroots.

  • Clove Cigarettes: Also called Kreteks, clove cigarettes contain tobacco and deliver more nicotine, carbon monoxide, and tar than regular cigarettes. The ACS reports that smokers have higher risks of asthma and other lung diseases than non-smokers. 

  • Bidis: Flavored cigarettes that are unfiltered and deliver up to five times more nicotine than regular cigarettes. 

  • Pipes: According to the ACS, pipe smokers have an increased risk of dying from cancers of the lung, lip, throat, esophagus, larynx, pancreas, and colon and rectum. 

The Surgeon General’s office has a free, easy-to-read, illustrated booklet that is designed to give concerned adults information to help them make choices that will improve their own health and the health of their children, their families, and their communities. For more information, visit the Surgeon General's website.

Looking for more inspiration to quit? Check out Tips From Former Smokers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Watch TV ads from the Tips campaigns and get to know the real people who appear in them. You can also watch their videos to hear how cigarette smoking has affected their lives.