Growing up in New England, “dipping” wasn’t much of a thing. It’s not that no one dips…it’s just that, as a child or even as a teenager, there’s never the kind of critical mass which might spike our curiosity.
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Then we joined the Marine Corps.
While we have no idea how the Corps is today, when we were in, a substantial percentage of Marines dipped and pretty much all males Marines (and a surprising number of female Marines) had at least tried it. Marines have a preference for dipping over smoking because it delivers nicotine without drawing sniper fire or possibly igniting all the flammable and/or explosive stuff that Marines need to wage war with.
While the newer dippers would use stuff like Skoal in flavors like “Wintergreen” the salty dippers all used Copenhagen Long Cut. Now, the reason that everyone went to Copenhagen is that, as everyone could tell you, it had pieces of fiberglass mixed into it to cut the inside of your lip and make it easier to absorb the nicotine…for a bigger punch.
Except that was an urban legend.
The problem is that if you were to use fiberglass to make little cuts in your lips and gums, the bleeding and inflammation would make the absorption of nicotine harder, not easier.
There are few reports confirming what additives smokeless tobacco contains, and brands vary in the kinds and amounts of additives used. Although small, glass-like particles can be seen, this is due to the formation of salt crystals – there is no fiberglass in dip. The addition of glass to dipping tobacco would be extremely ineffective as a delivery method, as bleeding and inflammation would be likely to decrease the intake of nicotine.<15> The amount of nicotine absorbed can be controlled by different cutting of the tobacco, increasing the nicotine concentration and raising the pH of the tobacco by adding various salts.<16> An alkaline pH causes more nicotine to be absorbed, especially the free, unprotonated form, but is irritating to the mucosa. Nicotine itself can also irritate the mucosa.
So the fiberglass in Copenhagen isn’t a real thing. Pass it on to your friends whenever they mention it.
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On the other hand, all the other nasty stuff they tell you about chewing tobacco and dipping is true. You can get plenty of mouth cancer without shards of glass in your lips.