Beyond Cigarettes: Other Tobacco and Nicotine Products

Types of Tobacco Products

Cigarettes are the most common form of tobacco used by teens. Teens use other forms of tobacco also—like e-cigarettes.  Teens sometimes think other forms of tobacco have lower health risks. Or they think they have a lower chance of becoming addicted.

Though the levels of risk vary, other tobacco products contain nicotine and other chemicals. They are not “safer” than smoking cigarettes.1 Most teens who use e-cigarettes and other tobacco products also smoke regular cigarettes.2

Electronic Cigarettes or E-Cigarettes

E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that turn nicotine into a vapor to inhale. E-cigarettes may look like regular cigarettes but produce no smoke. They contain nicotine and other chemicals.

Other forms of tobacco use have declined among teens, but e-cigarette use is growing.3 E-cigarettes can easily be bought online and are mistakenly thought to be safe.

Smokeless Tobacco, Including Chewing Tobacco, Snuff, and Snus

Smokeless tobacco is placed in the user’s cheek or between the gum and cheek. Then the user spits out the product. Snus are small pouches of tobacco that are placed between the gum and lip but are usually not spit out.

Bidis ("bee-dees") and Kreteks

Bidis are small, hand-rolled cigarettes. They may be flavored (such as chocolate, mango, or strawberry). Kreteks are also called clove cigarettes, because they include cloves (along with tobacco and other additives). These products contain more nicotine, tar, and carbon monoxide than regular U.S. cigarettes.

Cigars, Cigarillos, Little Cigars, and Blunts

Most cigars include tobacco that is cured to give it a different taste and smell. Regular cigars are larger than cigarettes. Little cigars or cigarillos look like cigarettes, but are filled with pipe tobacco. They may be flavored (chocolate, apple, etc.). Blunts are wide, stubby cigars. All of these products contain more nicotine than cigarettes.


Pipes use loose tobacco in a bowl, which is inhaled through a mouthpiece.

Hookah or Water Pipe

Hookahs or water pipes are originally from India and the Middle East. They use tobacco and fruits or vegetables (called Shisha) that is heated and filtered through water.

Dissolvable Tobacco

Dissolvable tobacco is used on strips, sticks, orbs, or lozenges. They can look like a breath mint or candy. They contain nicotine and other chemicals.

For more information on tobacco products, visit Be Tobacco Free.

Next Steps

  • Take the quiz to examine the ways you address alcohol and tobacco use in your family.
  • Learn about the current levels of underage alcohol and tobacco use.

Research Sources

1. Grana, R., Benowitz, N., & Glantz, S. A. (2014). E-cigarettes: A scientific review. Circulation, 129, 1972-1986. doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.114.007667; Callahan-Lyon, P. (2014). Electronic cigarettes: Human health effects. Tobacco Control, 23, 36-40. doi:10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2013-051470; and World Health Organization (2007). Smokeless tobacco and some tobacco-specific N-Nitrosamines. International Agency for Research on Cancer Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans Vol. 89. Lyon, France: World Health Organization.

2. National Institute on Drug Abuse (2014). Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes). Drug Facts. Washington, DC: U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health.

3. National Institute on Drug Abuse (2014). Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes). Drug Facts. Washington, DC: U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health.