Learn about different forms of tobacco

Every year on May 31, the World Health Organization (WHO) highlights World No Tobacco Day. The goal of this initiative is to raise awareness about the health risks associated with tobacco use.  With so many types of tobacco around, it is important to know about their differences and the health hazards they possess.

RELATED: How to Live Without Smoking

Tobacco is strongly linked to multiple types of cancer and other diseases. Although commonly associated with cigarettes, there are other forms of tobacco that are just as harmful and should be avoided.

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Popular Forms of Tobacco

Learn about the different kinds of tobacco:


The most commonly thought of form of tobacco when you hear the word “smoking.” Cigarettes include tobacco leaves, nicotine, and many cancer-causing chemicals. The smoke from a cigarette is inhaled into the lungs.


Cigars are another form of tobacco, they are tightly rolled, cured tobacco leaves in a leaf wrapper. Although cigars are usually not inhaled into the lungs, they still contain harmful, cancer-causing ingredients. They can also lead to a nicotine addiction. 

Electronic Cigarettes (e-cigarette)

A newer kind of tobacco, this device is shaped like a cigarette, cigar, or pen and does not contain tobacco. E-cigarettes contain nicotine, flavoring, and other chemicals which may be harmful, and uses batteries to heat and create a vapor. The amount of nicotine in individual e-cigarettes varies, although no tobacco smoke is produced. It is not yet known whether e-cigarettes are safe.


A hookah is a different form of tobacco — but is still just as dangerous.

It is used to smoke flavored tobacco, which contains nicotine and cancer-causing chemicals. It is heated, then cooled by passing through a bowl of water, and the smoke is then inhaled through a mouthpiece. It can lead to addiction, and is not safer than smoking cigarettes. 

Chewing tobacco

This comes in the form of loose tobacco leaves, plugs, or twists. It can come sweetened and flavored, and is placed in the mouth between the cheek and lower lip. It can also be chewed. Although it is commonly thought that chewing is not as harmful, like the others, it contains nicotine and cancer-causing chemicals, and can also cause other health problems.

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