On this page:
- Cigars, Little Cigars, Cigarillos
- Dissolvable Products
- Electronic Cigarettes (Also Referred to as: Vape Pen, e-Hookah, Hookah Pen)
- Traditional Smokeless Tobacco Products
- Waterpipes (Also Referred to as: Hookah, Shisha, Narghile, Argileh)
Tobacco use is the single largest preventable cause of disease and death in the United States, but can you recognize all the different forms of a tobacco product? The marketplace includes an array of new products, with many looking very different from the traditional tobacco products you may know about.
To attract users, tobacco companies regularly modify their products and introduce novel tobacco products to the market. “Parents should stay updated on the various products available and, discuss the dangers of tobacco use with their children,” says Ii-Lun Chen, M.D., a pediatrician and medical branch chief in the Office of Science at FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products.
The basic components of most cigarettes are tobacco, a filter, and paper wrapping. Although smokers use cigarettes to get nicotine, they are exposed to toxic and cancer-causing chemicals that are created when the cigarette is burned.
Cigars, Little Cigars, Cigarillos
Generally, cigars are cured tobacco wrapped in leaf tobacco or a substance containing tobacco. Cigars vary in size — with smaller sizes sometimes referred to as little cigars or cigarillos. Large cigars can deliver as much as 10 times the nicotine, 2 times more tar, and more than 5 times the carbon monoxide than a filtered cigarette. Although cigarettes with characterizing flavors are illegal, there are products available on the market that look like cigarettes but are labeled as “little cigars,” and some include candy and fruit flavors that appeal to adolescents and youth adults. Cigars also may appeal to youth because they may be less expensive than cigarettes. In addition, young adults may think that cigars are less addictive and present fewer health risks than cigarettes.
In the past, smokeless tobacco products have required spitting or discarding the product remains. There are new tobacco products that are not smoked and are often called “dissolvables.” These products can be more easily concealed as no product disposal is needed. They are sold as lozenges, strips, or sticks, and may look like candy. The advertised appealing flavor and discreet forms of these products may encourage young people to take them up, but the nicotine content can lead to addiction and may also present an accidental poisoning risk for children.
Electronic Cigarettes (Also Referred to as: Vape Pen, e-Hookah, Hookah Pen)
Electronic cigarettes often resemble traditional cigarettes but they use a heat source, usually powered by a battery, to turn “e-liquid,” a liquid that usually contains nicotine from tobacco and flavorings, into an aerosol that is inhaled by the user. The amount of nicotine in the aerosol may vary by brand. Little information about the safety of electronic cigarettes exists.
Traditional Smokeless Tobacco Products
There are two main types of smokeless tobacco that have been traditionally marketed in the United States: chewing tobacco and moist snuff. Chewing tobacco is cured tobacco in the form of loose leaf, plug, or twist. Snuff is finely cut or powdered, cured tobacco that can be dry, moist, or packaged in sachets. Snus is a finely ground moist snuff that can be loose or packaged. Most smokeless tobacco use involves placing the product between the cheek or lip and the gum.
The availability of flavored, lower-nicotine, smokeless tobacco products lacking harsh attributes promoted by manufacturers may allow for experimentation by new users, but may also lead to nicotine addiction and continued use of smokeless or other tobacco products. Over time, smokeless tobacco users may switch from lower-nicotine smokeless tobacco products to products that deliver more nicotine.
Waterpipes (Also Referred to as: Hookah, Shisha, Narghile, Argileh)
Waterpipes (also known as hookah, shisha, narghile, or argileh) are used to smoke specially made tobacco that comes in a variety of flavors like mint, cherry and licorice. Waterpipe smoking delivers the addictive drug nicotine and the smoke from a waterpipe is at least as toxic as, or more toxic than cigarette smoke. In fact, research shows that waterpipe smokers may absorb even more of the harmful components found in cigarette smoke because smoking sessions are longer. A typical one-hour hookah session involves inhaling 100 – 200 times the volume of smoke from a single cigarette. Waterpipe tobacco flavoring, exotic paraphernalia, and social use at hookah bars have increased its popularity with people who don’t already smoke cigarettes and younger people in the United States.
This article appears on FDA’s Consumer Updates page, which features the latest on all FDA-regulated products.
Updated: May 5, 2016