Packing a Lip
Dipping, or the act of dipping, is whereby the user places a wad of tobacco between the lip and gum. It is also termed ‘packing a lip’, for obvious reasons. Smokeless tobacco use is popular amongst certain sectors of the American public and especially amongst the young. In recent years there has been a surge in its use. The increase in consumption is due to a number of factors. The detrimental health effects of cigarette smoking are well known and well publicised and dipping tobacco is perceived as a safer alternative to smoking. Smoking bans are widespread. Up until relatively recently smoking was possible in most public areas such as restaurants, bars and even the workplace. The recognition that second hand smoke is a significant health hazard has acted as a spur to restrictive legislation. There are few public places, these days, where the ardent smoker can indulge their habit. Pass any office block at lunchtime and you will always see a clutch of hapless (or hopeless?) addicts, clustered on the sidewalk, indulging in their nicotine fix. Smokeless tobacco use is an easy way to obtain nicotine regardless of the situation or social setting. The quid of tobacco sits unobtrusively in the mouth and nicotine is easily and rapidly adsorbed through the moist linings of the cheek and gum. In fact nicotine adsorption by this route is very efficient and levels are often in excess of nicotine intake by smoking. Just like smoking dipping is highly addictive. Many users are of the opinion that dipping is harder to quit than smoking cigarettes. This is probably due to high levels of nicotine obtained by this method of tobacco consumption.
Dipping and Sports
Dipping has always had an association with sports and sportsmen and especially with baseball. Babe Ruth, the legendary base ball player, was a heavy consumer of smokeless tobacco on and off the field. His habit was likely responsible for his untimely death of nasopharyngeal cancer at age 53. Players argue that the nicotine rush provides energy and enhances their game.
Smokeless Tobacco and Cancer
While it is true that smokeless tobacco use is less hazardous to health than smoking, overall, it is still the cause of a host of serious diseases. Like all tobacco products, dipping tobacco contains a large number of cancer causing chemicals. This is why regular users are at a two fold increased risk of developing cancer of the soft and hard tissues of the oral cavity. Oral cancer is difficult to treat and is often diagnosed late in its development. Treatment often involves radical surgery to remove affected tissues, blood vessels and bone resulting in gross disfigurement. Anyone thinking of quitting should first search the internet and look at images of oral cancer survivors. The ravages of oral cancer should scare any sensible person into giving up their habit. Cure rates with oral cancer are depressingly low and only half of suffers are expected to survive five years after diagnosis. Users are also at a higher risk of developing cancers of the oesophagus and pancreas.
Dipping and Tooth Decay
Dipping tobacco is heavily processed and flavoured to mask tobaccos inherently unpleasant taste. Additives such as wintergreen, mint and sugars are common ingredients. Natural irritants in tobacco, together with added sweeteners, cause dental decay and gum recession exposing sensitive roots. The presence of tobacco in the mouth causes the production of excess saliva which is often expelled in disgusting brown streams. If this is not unpleasant enough the habit also encourages bad breath. None of these factors are attractive and may have an adverse impact on the consumer’s social life.
Dippers may also be smokers and may substitute smokeless tobacco in situations where it is not possible to indulge in cigarette smoking, such as during work. Those who consider smokeless or dipping tobacco a safer alternative to smoking are advised to think again. In the final analysis all forms of tobacco consumption is deleterious to health and subject their users to potentially fatal disease.