A Primer on Emerging Tobacco Products
Tobacco comes in many forms. Some — like cigarettes, cigars, pipes, and chewing tobacco — you may recognize. Others — such as cigarillos or small cigars, e-cigarettes, snus or tobacco pouches, tobacco strips, orbs or other dissolvables, bidis, kreteks or clove cigars, dhoka, and hookah or water pipes — you may not.
Here's a brief primer regarding what's on the market today.
E-Cigarettes (also called electronic cigarettes, vape pen, e-hookah, hookah pen)
E-cigarettes are tobacco products that allow a user to inhale an aerosol containing nicotine and other substances.
E-cigarettes are not an FDA-approved quit smoking device. E-cigarettes also have not been proven to be a safe alternative to other forms of tobacco. They are, however, attractive to youth, including those who have never smoked cigarettes or other tobacco products. Research shows that e-cigarettes are rapidly gaining popularity among youths, tripling among middle and high school students in just one year.
While the long-term impact of using e-cigarettes — or of secondhand exposure to e-cigarettes — is unknown at this point, current concerns include poisoning risk and reduced lung function. There are also safety concerns, as some of these devices have exploded and caused injury or fires. Some consumers have sued for injuries and damages sustained when their e-cigarettes exploded.
Smokeless Tobacco (also called chewing tobacco, spit tobacco, snuff, snus)
Spit tobacco and snuff are readily available throughout Michigan in candy flavors including mint, cinnamon, apple, berry, citrus, cherry, and peach.
Snus, a moist form of smokeless tobacco, typically is offered in small pouches similar to tea bags and is held in the mouth, either behind the upper lip or between the cheek or teeth and the gums. First developed in Sweden, snus are a "spit-free" form of tobacco and have been marketed aggressively in the United States as an alternative nicotine-delivery system in smoke-free environments. American snus are available in a variety of flavors, including spearmint, wintergreen, vanilla, and various fruits.
The fact that snus and, indeed all of today's smokeless tobacco products, can be purchased in a range of flavors helps make these products more attractive to youth who might otherwise not use them.
Despite the marketing campaigns, though, it is important to remember that all smokeless tobacco — no matter what form it takes — poses health risks and has been associated with oral, esophageal, stomach, and pancreatic cancers.
Hookah (also called waterpipe, shisha, narghile, argileh)
Hookah smoking involves using a water pipe or shisha to pass tobacco smoke through water or a distilled alcoholic beverage, such as vodka, before it is inhaled.
In an hour-long hookah session, a smoker can inhale 100-200 times the volume of smoke inhaled from a single cigarette. The charcoal used to heat the shisha also can increase health risks by exposing the user to high levels of carbon monoxide, metals, and cancer-causing chemicals and by exposing both users and non-users to the carcinogens in secondhand smoke that remains in the area.
There are special concerns related to hookah use, including the risk of transmitting tuberculosis, herpes and/or hepatitis and other infectious diseases. Research shows that hookah smokers are at risk for oral, stomach, lung, and esophageal cancers, reduced lung function, and decreased fertility.
Read more about hookah in the MDHHS Position Statement on Hookah Use.
Cigars/ Cigarillos/ Little Cigars
Cigars, cigarillos and little cigars are readily available, come in a vast array of fruit and candy flavors, and are sold individually, often for as little as 25 cents each.
Dissolvable products are made either of nicotine gel, such as Nicospan, or of finely ground tobacco pressed into a stick or oval form. However, the fact that they are oral products that involve swallowing tobacco juice increases concern about oral, esophageal and stomach cancers that could arise among long-term users.
- Presentation: How to Create a New Generation Tobacco Products Education Board (Michigan Department of Community Health)
- Presentation: Tobacco Playbook Déjà vu: e-Cigarettes (Michigan Department of Community Health)
- Fact Sheet: What You Should Know About Electronic Cigarettes (E-Cigarettes) (Michigan Department of Health and Human Services)
Photo credits: The images on this page first appeared on the U.S. Food & Drug Administration webpage Recognize Tobacco in its Many Forms.