Dipping tobacco, traditionally referred to as moist snuff, is a type of finely ground or shredded, moistened smokeless tobacco product. It is commonly and idiomatically known by various terms—most often as dip and sometimes as rub. It is used by placing a lump or "dip" of tobacco between the lip and the gum. The act of using it is called dipping, packing or more specifically packing a lip, or packing a lipper. Dip is colloquially called "chew", "snuff", "chaw", "daps", "baccer", "spit tobacco", or "mouth tobacco", among other terms; because of this, it is sometimes confused with other tobacco products—namely chewing tobacco or nasal/dry snuff.
Dipping tobacco is often referred to as smokeless tobacco. However, this may be a misnomer, as the phrase is something of an umbrella term that could refer to any type of tobacco product that does not require smoking in order for it to be used.
Dipping tobacco was initially introduced as a variation of the historically Swedish oral tobacco, snus, that was brought to the United States by Swedish immigrants in the early 19th century. In modern times, it is still largely relegated to the United States, where moist snuff is most popular among the blue-collar working class and especially in the Southern and Midwestern United States. It is also widely used in certain parts of Canada.
Before opening the can/tin of tobacco, users typically "pack" the tin, similar to how cigarette smokers pack a pack of cigarettes. This is done by placing one's thumb and index finger on the top and bottom of the tin, and then quickly turning the tin and flicking the wrist so that one's index finger taps the top of the tin.
Unlike snus, which is most often placed between the upper lip and gum, dip users or "dippers" tend to use the lower. Dipping in the upper lip is unusual, though when done, it is colloquially termed an "upper decker" or "top lip dip".][ The dip rests on the inside lining of the mouth for a period depending upon the user's preference—often 10 to 30 minutes. Nicotine and other alkaloids found in tobacco are absorbed sublabially by the inferior or superior labial arteries. Buccal and sublingual absorption may also occur.
Unlike snus, dip often causes the user to produce excess saliva during the act of dipping. This is typically expectorated onto the ground or in a container, because swallowing the saliva-tobacco mixture can cause irritation to the esophagus and induce nausea and vomiting. Smokeless tobacco is sometimes used in the workplace by employees, especially if the employer does not provide many cigarette breaks or if the employee is consistently using both hands during work (which doesn't provide opportunities for cigarette smoking). Smokeless tobacco is popular in many industrial areas where there is a safety risk in having an open flame, such as oil rigs or refineries.
Copenhagen, a brand of dipping tobacco manufactured by the U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company, has at times been an additive of choice for native Alaskans when making Blackbull or Iqmik (a traditional type of chewing tobacco product) with punk ash. As such, it reduces the amount of tobacco needed to receive a nicotine "buzz" and substantially increases the psychoactive effects they receive from its use.
Dipping tobacco was first popularized and marketed as moist snuff in the 1800s. The term "snuff" in this context is an English cognate of the aforementioned "snus", from Swedish. Dipping tobacco's Scandinavian roots impart a noticeable legacy on modern American brands such as Copenhagen and Skoal (referring to the interlinguistic term skål, which in Norwegian, Danish and Swedish roughly translates to either "cheers", implying a toast, or "bowl").
The difference between cut sizes are the length of the strands of tobacco.
Dipping tobacco, like other tobacco products, contains nicotine, a stimulant and a relaxant. Effects include increased heart rate, an increase in systolic blood pressure, and an increase in adrenaline.
Dipping tobacco can cause fatal oral cancers and tooth loss. Some cancers include the following: Tongue cancer, lip cancer, cheek cancer, gum cancer, throat cancer, and cancer in the roof and floor of the mouth. In some cases it has been known to cause cancer within only a few years of use. Gruen Von Behrens, now a public speaker against the product, started using dipping tobacco at age 13 only to be diagnosed with mouth cancer at 17. He started noticing signs of cancer at age 16. However, more recent analysis has suggested that the oral cancer risk is not as high as previously believed.
Studies are inconclusive as to how significantly smokeless tobacco affects users' cardiovascular systems, but it has been studied that it may have more nicotine than cigarettes. One study states that, "Although the evidence is not conclusive, the adverse cardiovascular effects of smokeless tobacco use are less than those caused by smoking but are more than those found in non-users." Other studies also indicate that smokeless tobacco related cardiovascular risks are lower than that of smoked tobacco. One study states that smokeless tobacco use has a "positive effect on cardiovascular risk factors in young physically fit men." However, it is important to note that one Indian study from the state of Rajasthan states, "There is a significantly greater prevalence of multiple cardiovascular risk factors [sic] obesity, resting tachycardia, hypertension, high total and LDL cholesterol, and low HDL cholesterol, and electrocardiographic changes in tobacco users, chewing or smoking, as compared-to tobacco non-users. Chewing tobacco is associated with similar cardiovascular risk as smoking." This finding may bear on the possibility that smokeless tobacco in India is produced differently than in Western countries.][
Due to contrasting results in studies, many conclude that further research should be done on the cardiovascular risks of smokeless tobacco.
Smokeless tobacco contains nicotine, which is the primary reinforcing agent.
According to European Union policy, Scandinavian or some American smokeless tobaccos (specifically snus) are at least 90% less hazardous than cigarette smoking. However, the habit is still addictive.
Taxation and restriction of smoking is causing more smokeless tobacco use as "substitution." There are active public health debates regarding risk-reduction for smokers and the reconsideration of smokeless tobacco risks. "...There is a substantial body of informed and independent opinion that sees the value of harm reduction strategies based on smokeless tobacco." Most of these studies are supported by the makers of smokeless tobacco.][
There are few reports confirming what additives smokeless tobacco contains, and it is very likely that brands vary in the kinds and amounts of additives used. There is a widespread urban myth that fiberglass is added to smokeless tobacco to increase the efficiency of nicotine absorption. Although small, glass-like particles can be seen in snus, this may be due to the formation of salt crystals.
The addition of glass to dipping tobacco would not be beneficial for increasing nicotine delivery, as bleeding and inflammation would be likely to reduce the uptake of nicotine. The amount of nicotine absorbed can be controlled by different cutting of the tobacco, increasing the nicotine concentration and raising the pH of the tobacco by adding various salts. An alkaline pH causes more nicotine to be absorbed, especially the free, unprotonated form, but is irritating to the mucosa. Nicotine itself can also irritate the mucosa.
Based on studies at the time was believed to be a strong association with cancer and a fairly low usage outside of North America and several countries have banned the sale (and in some cases the import) of dipping tobacco. Sale of dipping tobacco was banned in South Australia in 1986 and across the country in 1991 and in most of the EU nations in 1992. Sweden was exempt from this ban because of the traditionally high usage of snus in that country.
In the USA it is illegal to sell dip to persons under the age of 18 (except in Alabama, Alaska, New Jersey, Utah, and the Counties of Suffolk County, Onondaga and Nassau in New York State where the age requirement is 19).
Companies are now required to place very large warning labels that comprise at least 20 percent of all advertisements and 30 percent of two principal display panels on each tin.
In the United States, the federal government taxes dipping tobacco at $0.5033 per pound or $0.0315 per ounce, tin or pouch. Excise taxes are also levied at the state level (Pennsylvania being the only exception), and in some instances, at the local level. Sales tax is also applied to the full retail price of dipping tobacco in most jurisdictions. The price of a tin of tobacco can range anywhere from one dollar per tin to a little bit more than five dollars. A roll of chew, which is five tins, can be around six dollars; a sleeve, which is ten tins, can be around nine or ten dollars. This depends on the type and brand of the chew.