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Here’s the bottom line: There is no such thing as a “safe” or “safer” tobacco product. The truth is, whether it’s smoked, dipped or rolled, any form of tobacco is harmful. All tobacco products contain nicotine, which is addictive and can harm your developing brain. And all tobacco products have serious health consequences. Learn more about the risks of using tobacco products.


E-cigarettes are also called e-cigs, vape pens, mods and pod mods (which often look like USB drives). These devices heat a liquid into an aerosol that’s inhaled by the user. The aerosol from e-cigarettes is not just harmless water vapor. It contains a mix of potentially harmful chemicals that are not safe to breathe. Most e-cigarettes also contain nicotine. Nicotine is very addictive and can harm brain development, which continues past adolescence into the mid-20s.

Learn more about the risks of using e-cigarettes.


A cigar is a roll of tobacco wrapped in leaf tobacco or any substance that contains tobacco that is not a cigarette. Cigars vary in size—from smaller cigars, such as little filtered cigars or cigarillos, to larger ones, such as large premium cigars. Cigar smoke has similar types of harmful and cancer-causing substances as cigarette smoke. Cigar users can be exposed to nicotine without fully inhaling. It can be absorbed through fingers and lips. Compared to cigarette tobacco, cigar tobacco contains increased levels of some cancer-causing chemicals.


Using multiple tobacco products means more exposure to harmful chemicals, causing greater risks to the lungs, respiratory organs and the cardiovascular system. Combining tobacco products also increases the amount of nicotine in your body, which can make you more dependent on nicotine, and make it harder to quit using tobacco.


Cigarettes typically consist of tobacco, chemical additives, a filter, and paper wrapping. The smoke inhaled from a burning cigarette contains a mix of over 7,000 harmful chemicals. More than 70 of these chemicals are linked to cancer. There is no evidence that cigarettes advertised as “organic,” all-natural,” or “additive-free” are any safer or less harmful. Cigarette smoking harms nearly every organ of the body, and causes many diseases, including heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer.

Learn more about the risks of cigarette smoking, and check out the My Life My Quit text program to get help with quitting.


Smokeless tobacco is tobacco that is not burned. There are many types of smokeless tobacco, including chewing tobacco, oral tobacco, spit or spitting tobacco, dip, chew, and snuff. Smokeless tobacco has high levels of chemicals and other substances that can cause cancer. People who use smokeless tobacco have a high risk of mouth and throat cancer.

Learn more about the risks of smokeless tobacco and use the My Life My Quit text program to help you quit.


Hookah tobacco is usually flavored, and is smoked in a hookah waterpipe. It is also known as shisha, maassel, narghile, argileh, hubble-bubble, and goza. Just because hookah smoke passes through water doesn’t mean it’s safer to use. Hookah smoking has many of the same health risks as cigarette smoking. The smoke from a hookah has high levels of carbon monoxide and chemicals that can cause lung, bladder, and mouth cancer.

Learn more about the risks of hookah smoking.


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Iowa Dept. of Public Health

Contact Us

Iowa Department of Public Health
Division of Tobacco Use Prevention and Control
321 E. 12th Street
Des Moines, Iowa 50319
Phone: 515-281-6225

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