AskDefine | Define chaw

Dictionary Definition

chaw n : a wad of something chewable as tobacco [syn: chew, cud, quid, plug, wad] v : chew without swallowing; "chawtobacco"

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. In the context of "informal|uncountable": Chewing tobacco.
    When the doctor told him to quit smoking, Harvey switched to chaw, but then developed cancer of the mouth.
  2. A plug or wad of chewing tobacco.
    My uncle's way to convince us not to use tobacco was to give us each a big chaw, and then get us to swallow it.


  1. In the context of "nonstandard": Nonstandard spelling of chew; to grind with the teeth; to masticate, as food in eating; to chew, as the cud; to champ, as the bit.
  2. In the context of "UK|slang": To steal.
    • ...some pikey's chawed my bike.

Extensive Definition

Tobacco is an agricultural product processed from the fresh leaves of plants in the genus Nicotiana. It is most commonly smoked in the form of cigarettes or cigars. Tobacco has been growing on both American continents since about 6000 BC and was used by native cultures by around 3000 BC. It has been smoked, in one form or another, since about 3000 BC. Tobacco has a long history of use in Native American culture, and played an important role in the political, economic, and cultural history of the United States of America.
Dried, cured, and unprocessed tobacco is commercially available all over the world. Smoke from burning, or otherwise heated, tobacco can be inhaled in the forms of cigarettes, cigars, stem pipes, water pipes, and hookahs. Tobacco can also be chewed, dipped (placed between the cheek and gum), or sniffed into the nose as finely powdered snuff. Many countries set minimum legal smoking ages, regulating the purchase and use of tobacco products. Bhutan is the only country in the world where tobacco sales are illegal. According to the World Health Organization, tobacco smoke is the second biggest cause of death worldwide, and is reported to have been responsible for the deaths of 100 million people in the 20th century.
All methods of tobacco consumption result in varying quantities of nicotine being absorbed into the user's bloodstream. Over time, tolerance and dependence develop. Absorption quantity, frequency, and speed of tobacco consumption are believed to be directly related to biological strength of nicotine dependence, addiction, and tolerance. .


The Spanish word "tabaco" is thought to have its origin in Arawakan language, particularly, in the Taino language of the Caribbean. In Taino, it was said to refer either to a roll of tobacco leaves (according to Bartolome de Las Casas, 1552), or to the tabago, a kind of Y-shaped pipe for sniffing tobacco smoke (according to Oviedo; with the leaves themselves being referred to as Cohiba).
However, similar words in Spanish and Italian were commonly used from 1410 to define medicinal herbs, originating from the Arabic tabbaq, a word reportedly dating to the 9th century, as the name of various herbs.


Tobacco had already long been used in the Americas by the time European settlers arrived and introduced the practice to Europe, where it became hugely popular. At high doses, tobacco can become hallucinogenic ; accordingly, Native Americans did not always use the drug recreationally. Instead, it was often consumed as an entheogen; among some tribes, this was done only by experienced shamans or medicine men. Eastern North American tribes would carry large amounts of tobacco in pouches as a readily accepted trade item and would often smoke it in pipes, either in defined ceremonies that were considered sacred, or to seal a bargain, and they would smoke it at such occasions in all stages of life, even in childhood. It was believed that tobacco was a gift from the Creator and that the exhaled tobacco smoke was capable of carrying one's thoughts and prayers to heaven.
In addition to being smoked, uncured tobacco was often eaten, used in enemas, or drunk as extracted juice. Early missionaries often reported on the ecstatic state caused by tobacco. As its use spread into Western cultures, however, it was no longer used primarily for entheogenic or religious purposes, although religious use of tobacco is still common among many indigenous peoples, particularly in the Americas. Among the Cree and Ojibway of Canada and the north-central United States, it is offered to the Creator, with prayers, and is used in sweat lodges, pipe ceremonies, smudging, and is presented as a gift. A gift of tobacco is tradition when asking an Ojibway elder a question of a spiritual nature. Because of its sacred nature, tobacco abuse (thoughtlessly and addictively chain smoking) is seriously frowned upon by the Algonquian tribes of Canada, as it is believed that if one so abuses the plant, it will abuse that person in return, causing sickness.
With the arrival of Europeans, tobacco became one of the primary products fueling the colonization of the future American South, long before the official formation of the United States. The initial colonial expansion, fueled by the desire to increase tobacco production, was one cause of early conflicts between Native Americans and European settlers, and was a driving factor in the encorporation of African slave labor.
In 1609, John Rolfe arrived at the Jamestown Settlement in Virginia, and is credited as the first settler to have successfully raised tobacco (commonly referred to at that time as "brown gold") for commercial use. The tobacco raised in Virginia at that time, Nicotiana rustica, did not suit European tastes, but Rolfe raised a more popular variety, Nicotiana tabacum, from seeds brought with him from Bermuda. Tobacco was used as currency by the Virginia settlers for years, and Rolfe was able to make his fortune in farming it for export at Varina Farms Plantation. When he left for England with his wife, Pocahontas a daughter of Chief Powhatan, he had become wealthy. Returning to Jamestown, following Pocahontas' death in England, Rolfe continued in his efforts to improve the quality of commercial tobacco, and, by 1620, pounds of tobacco were shipped to England. By the time John Rolfe died in 1622, Jamestown was thriving as a producer of tobacco, and its population had topped 4,000. Tobacco led to the importation of the colony's first black slaves in 1619. In the year 1616, of tobacco were produced in Jamestown, Virginia, quickly rising up to in 1620.
The importation of tobacco into Europe was not without resistance and controversy even in the 17th century. Stuart King James I wrote a famous polemic titled A Counterblaste to Tobacco in 1604 (published in 1672), in which the king denounced tobacco use as "[a] custome lothsome to the eye, hatefull to the Nose, harmefull to the braine, dangerous to the Lungs, and in the blacke stinking fume thereof, neerest resembling the horrible Stigian smoke of the pit that is bottomelesse." In that same year, an English statute was enacted that placed a heavy protective tariff on every pound of tobacco brought into England.
Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, tobacco continued to be the cash crop of the Virginia Colony, as well as The Carolinas. Large tobacco warehouses filled the areas near the wharves of new, thriving towns such as Dumfries on the Potomac, Richmond and Manchester at the fall line (head of navigation) on the James, and Petersburg on the Appomattox.
Until 1883, tobacco excise tax accounted for one third of internal revenue collected by the United States government.
A historian of the American South in the late 1860s reported on typical usage in the region where it was grown:
As a lucrative crop, tobacco has been the subject of a great deal of biological and genetic research. The economic impact of Tobacco Mosaic disease was the impetus that led to the isolation of Tobacco mosaic virus, the first virus to be identified; the fortunate coincidence that it is one of the simplest viruses and can self-assemble from purified nucleic acid and protein led, in turn, to the rapid advancement of the field of virology. The 1946 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was shared by Wendell Meredith Stanley for his 1935 work crystallizing the virus and showing that it remains active.

Tobacco in the Ottoman Empire

Tobacco as a commercial product first arrived in the Ottoman Empire in the late 16th century. By 1700, it had reached Europe and Asia, and would soon arrive in the Middle East, where it was welcomed with the same enthusiasm with which coffee had been greeted, two centuries earlier.
When tobacco first arrived in the Ottoman Empire, it attracted the attention of doctors and became a commonly prescribed medicine for many ailments. Although tobacco was initially prescribed as medicine, further study led to claims that smoking caused dizziness, fatigue, dulling of the senses, and a foul taste/odour in the mouth.
In 1682, Damascene jurist Abd al-Ghani al-Nabulsi declared: “Tobacco has now become extremely famous in all the countries of Islam ... People of all kinds have used it and devoted themselves to it ... I have even seen young children of about five years applying themselves to it.”
In 1750, a Damascene townsmen observed “a number of women greater than the men, sitting along the bank of the Barada River. They were eating and drinking, and drinking coffee and smoking tobacco just as the men were doing.”

Further reading

  • Murphey, Rhoads. Studies on Ottoman Society and Culture: 16th-18th Centuries. Burlington, VT: Ashgate: Variorum, 2007 ISBN 9780754659310 ISBN 0754659313
  • Price, Jacob M. “Tobacco Use and Tobacco Taxation: A battle of Interests in Early Modern Europe”. Consuming Habits: Drugs in History and Anthropology. Jordan Goodman, et al. New York: Routledge, 1995 166-169 ISBN 0-415-09039-3



Tobacco seeds are scattered onto the surface of the soil, as their germination is activated by light. In colonial Virginia, seedbeds were fertilized with wood ash or animal manure (frequently powdered horse manure). Seedbeds were then covered with branches to protect the young plants from frost damage, and the plants were left alone until around April.
In the 19th century, young plants came under increasing attack from certain types of flea beetles, Epitrix cucumeris or Epitrix pubescens, which caused destruction of half the tobacco crops in United States in 1876. In the years afterward, many experiments were attempted and discussed to control the flea beetle. By 1880 it was discovered that replacing the branches with a frame covered by thin fabric would effectively protect plants from the beetle. This practice spread until it became ubiquitous in the 1890s.
Today, in the United States, unlike other countries, tobacco is often fertilized with the mineral apatite in order to partially starve the plant for nitrogen, which changes the taste. This (together with the use of licorice and other additives) accounts for the different flavor of American cigarettes from those available in other countries. There is, however, some suggestion that this may have adverse health effects attributable to the content of apatite.


After the plants have reached a certain height, they are transplanted into fields. This was originally done by making a relatively large hole in the tilled earth with a tobacco peg, then placing the small plant in the hole. Various mechanical tobacco planters were invented throughout the late 19th and early 20th century to automate this process, making a hole, fertilizing it, and guiding a plant into the hole with one motion.


Tobacco can be harvested in several ways. In the oldest method, the entire plant is harvested at once by cutting off the stalk at the ground with a sickle. In the nineteenth century, bright tobacco began to be harvested by pulling individual leaves off the stalk as they ripened. The leaves ripen from the ground upwards, so a field of tobacco may go through several so-called "pullings," more commonly known as topping (topping always refers to the removal of the tobacco flower before the leaves are systematically removed and, eventually, entirely harvested. The stalks are left as compost to postpone over-farming and thus soil lacking essential nutrients for a strong crop the following year. "Cropping," "Topping," "Pulling", and "Priming" are terms for removing mature leaves from tobacco crops. Leaves are cropped as they ripen, from the bottom to the top of the stalk. The first crop of leaves, located near the base of the tobacco stalk, are called "sand lugs" in more rural southern tobacco states, where these leaves are often against the ground, coated with sand and clay, splashed upon them when it rains. Sand lugs weigh the most, and are most difficult to work with. Their weight is due to their large size and the added weight of caked-on soil; slaves would "lug" each stack to the stringer, a typically female slave who bundled each stack of leaves. Eventually workers carried the tobacco and placed it on sleds or trailers. As the industrial revolution approached America, the harvesting wagons used to transport leaves were equipped with man powered stringers, an apparatus which used twine to attach leaves onto a poll. In modern times, large fields are harvested by a single piece of farm equipment, although topping the flower and in some cases the plucking of immature leaves is still done by hand.
Some farmers still use "tobacco harvesters." They are not very efficient yet highly cost effective for harvesting premium and rare strains of tobacco. The harvester trailer for in-demand crops are now pulled by gasoline fueled tractors. The croppers pull the leaves off in handfuls, and pass these to the "stringer", which bundles the leaves to a four-sided pole with twine. These poles are hung until the harvester is full; the poles are then placed in much larger wagon to be pulled by modern farm tractors to their destination. For rare tobaccos, they are often cured on the farm. Traditionally, the slaves who cropped, pulled etc... had a very tough time with the first pull of the large, dirty, base leaves in particular. The leaves slapped their faces, dark tobacco sap which dries into a pitch black tar covered their bodies, and the soil stuck to the tar. There was one perk, however: nicotine, the addictive psychotropic stimulant in tobacco acts as a powerful insecticide. Slaves could enjoy a bug free day of forced labor when harvesting tobacco. The croppers were men, and the stringers, seated on the higher elevated seats were women or children. The harvesters had places for one team of ten workers: eight people cropping and stringing, plus a packer who moved the heavy strung poles of wet green tobacco from the stringers and packed them onto the pallet section of the harvester, plus a horseman, making the total crew of each harvester 10 people. Interestingly, the outer seats are suspended from the harvester - slung out over to fit into the aisles of tobacco. As these seats are suspended it is important to balance the weight of the two outside teams (similar to a playground see-saw). Having too heavy or light a person in an unbalanced combination often results in the harvester tipping over especially when turning around at the end of a lane. Water tanks are a common feature on the harvester due to heat, and danger of dehydration for the slaves.


Cut plants or pulled leaves are immediately transferred to tobacco barns (kiln houses), where they will be cured. Curing methods vary with the type of tobacco grown, and tobacco barn design varies accordingly. Air-cured tobacco is hung in well-ventilated barns and allowed to dry over a period of four to eight weeks.
Fire-cured tobacco is hung in large barns where fires of hardwoods are kept on continuous or intermittent low smoulder and takes between three days and ten weeks, depending on the process and the tobacco.
Flue-cured tobacco was originally strung onto tobacco sticks, which were hung from tier-poles in curing barns (Aus: kilns, also traditionally called Oasts). These barns have flues which run from externally fed fire boxes, heat-curing the tobacco without exposing it to smoke, slowly raising the temperature over the course of the curing. The process will generally take about a week.
Traditional curing barns in the U.S. are falling into disuse, as the trend toward using prefabricated metal curing machines within factories allows greater efficiency. These machines are also found on location at tobacco farms in 2nd world countries. Curing and subsequent aging allows for the slow oxidation and degradation of carotenoids in tobacco leaf. This produces certain compounds in the tobacco leaves very similar and give a sweet hay, tea, rose oil, or fruity aromatic flavor that contribute to the "smoothness" of the smoke. Starch is converted to sugar which glycates protein and is oxidized into advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs), a caramelization process that also adds flavor. Inhalation of these AGEs in tobacco smoke contributes to atherosclerosis and cancer.
Non-aged or low quality tobacco is often flavored with these naturally occurring compounds. Tobacco flavoring is a significant source of revenue for the international multi-million dollar flavor and fragrance industry.
The aging process continues for a period of months and often extends into the post-curing harvest process.
After tobacco is cured, it is moved from the curing barn into a storage area for processing. If whole plants were cut, the leaves are removed from the tobacco stalks in a process called stripping. For both cut and pulled tobacco, the leaves are then sorted into different grades. In colonial times, the tobacco was then "prized" into hogsheads for transportation. In bright tobacco regions, prizing was replaced by stacking wrapped "hands" into loose piles to be sold at auction. Today, most cured tobacco is baled before sales are made under pre-sold contracts.


'''Aromatic Fire-cured

Aromatic Fire-cured smoking tobacco is a robust variety of tobacco used as a condimental for pipe blends. It is cured by smoking over gentle fires. In the United States, it is grown in the western part of Tennessee, Western Kentucky and in Virginia. Fire-cured tobacco grown in Kentucky and Tennessee is used in some chewing tobaccos, moist snuff, some cigarettes and as a condiment leaf in pipe tobacco blends. It has a rich, slightly floral taste, and adds body and aroma to the blend.
Another fire-cured tobacco is Latakia and is produced from oriental varieties of N. tabacum. The leaves are cured and smoked over smoldering fires of local hardwoods and aromatic shrubs in Cyprus and Syria. Latakia has a pronounced flavor and a very distinctive smoky aroma, and is used in Balkan and English-style pipe tobacco blends.
It had been noticed for centuries that sandy, highland soil produced thinner, weaker plants. Captain Abisha Slade, of Caswell County, North Carolina had a good deal of infertile, sandy soil, and planted the new "gold-leaf" varieties on it. Slade owned a slave, Stephen, who around 1839 accidentally produced the first real bright tobacco. He used charcoal to restart a fire used to cure the crop. The surge of heat turned the leaves yellow. Using that discovery, Slade developed a system for producing bright tobacco, cultivating on poorer soils and using charcoal for heat-curing.
Slade made many public appearances to share the bright-leaf process with other farmers. Prosperous and outgoing, he built a brick house in Yanceyville, North Carolina, and at one time had many servants.
News spread through the area pretty quickly. The infertile sandy soil of the Appalachian piedmont was suddenly profitable, and people rapidly developed flue-curing techniques, a more efficient way of smoke-free curing. Farmers discovered that Bright leaf tobacco needs thin, starved soil, and those who could not grow other crops found that they could grow tobacco. Formerly unproductive farms reached 20–35 times their previous worth. By 1855, six Piedmont counties adjoining Virginia ruled the tobacco market.
By the outbreak of the Civil War, the town of Danville, Virginia actually had developed a bright-leaf market for the surrounding area in Caswell County, North Carolina and Pittsylvania County, Virginia.
Danville was also the main railway head for Confederate soldiers going to the front. These brought bright tobacco with them from Danville to the lines, traded it with each other and Union soldiers, and developed quite a taste for it. At the end of the war, the soldiers went home and suddenly there was a national market for the local crop. Caswell and Pittsylvania counties were the only two counties in the South that experienced an increase in total wealth after the war.

White burley

In 1865, George Webb of Brown County, Ohio planted Red Burley seeds he had purchased, and found that a few of the seedlings had a whitish, sickly look. He transplanted them to the fields anyway, where they grew into mature plants but retained their light color. The cured leaves had an exceedingly fine texture and were exhibited as a curiosity at the market in Cincinnati. The following year he planted ten acres (40,000 m²) from seeds from those plants, which brought a premium at auction. The air-cured leaf was found to be mild tasting and more absorbent than any other variety. White Burley, as it was later called, became the main component in chewing tobacco, American blend pipe tobacco, and American-style cigarettes. The white part of the name is seldom used today, since red burley, a dark air-cured variety of the mid-1800s, no longer exists.

Shade tobacco

It is not well known that the northern US states of Connecticut and Massachusetts are also one of the important tobacco-growing regions of the country. Long before Europeans arrived in the area, Native Americans harvested wild tobacco plants that grew along the banks of the Connecticut River. Today, the Connecticut River valley north of Hartford, Connecticut is known as "Tobacco Valley", and the fields and drying sheds are visible to travelers on the road to and from Bradley International Airport, the major Connecticut airport. The tobacco grown here is known as shade tobacco, and is used as outer wrappers for some of the world's cigars.
Early Connecticut colonists acquired from the Native Americans the habit of smoking tobacco in pipes and began cultivating the plant commercially, even though the Puritans referred to it as the "evil weed". The plant was outlawed in Connecticut in 1650, but in the 1800s as cigar smoking began to be popular, tobacco farming became a major industry, employing farmers, laborers, local youths, southern African Americans, and migrant workers.
Working conditions varied from backbreaking work for young local children, ages 13 and up, to backbreaking exploitation of migrants. Each tobacco plant yields only 18 leaves useful as cigar wrappers, and each leaf requires a great deal of individual manual attention during harvesting. Although the temperature in the curing sheds sometimes exceeds 38 C (100 F), no work is done inside the sheds while the tobacco is being fired.
In 1921, Connecticut tobacco production peaked, at 31,000 acres (125 km²) under cultivation. The rise of cigarette smoking and the decline of cigar smoking have caused a corresponding decline in the demand for shade tobacco, reaching a minimum in 1992 of 2,000 acres (8 km²) under cultivation. Since then, however, cigar smoking has become more popular again, and in 1997 tobacco farming had risen to 4,000 acres (16 km²). However, only 1,050 acres (4.2 km²) of shade tobacco were harvested in the Connecticut Valley in 2006. Connecticut seed is being grown in Ecuador, where labor is very cheap. The industry has weathered some major catastrophes, including a devastating hailstorm in 1929, and an epidemic of brown spot fungus in 2000, but is now in danger of disappearing altogether, given the value of the land to real estate speculators. The older and much less labor intensive Broadleaf plant, which produces an excellent maduro wrapper as well as binder and filler for cigars, is increasing in area in the Connecticut Valley.


Perhaps the most strongly flavored of all tobaccos is the Perique, from Saint James Parish, Louisiana. When the Acadians made their way into this region in 1755, the Choctaw and Chickasaw tribes were cultivating a variety of tobacco with a distinctive flavor. A farmer called Pierre Chenet is credited with first turning this local tobacco into the Perique in 1824 through the technique of pressure-fermentation.
Considered the truffle of pipe tobaccos, the Perique is used as a component of many blended pipe tobaccos, but is too strong to be smoked pure. At one time, the freshly moist Perique was also chewed, but none is now sold for this purpose. It is traditionally a pipe tobacco, and is still very popular with pipe-smokers, typically blended with pure Virginia to lend spice, strength, and coolness to the blend.

Oriental Tobacco

Oriental tobacco is a sun-cured, highly aromatic, small-leafed variety (Nicotiana tabacum) that is grown in Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria, and Macedonia. Oriental tobacco is frequently referred to as "Turkish tobacco", as these regions were all historically part of the Ottoman Empire. Many of the early brands of cigarettes were made mostly or entirely of Oriental tobacco; today, its main use is in blends of pipe and especially cigarette tobacco (a typical American cigarette is a blend of bright Virginia, burley and Oriental).


Dokha is a tobacco of Iranian origin mixed with leaves, bark, and herbs for smoking in a midwakh.

Wild Tobacco

Wild tobacco is native to the southwestern United States, Mexico, and parts of South America. Its botanical name is Nicotiana rustica.

Tobacco products


Snuff is a generic term for fine-ground smokeless tobacco products. Originally the term referred only to dry snuff, a fine tan dust popular mainly in the eighteenth century. This is often called "Scotch Snuff", a folk-etymology derivation of the scorching process used to dry the cured tobacco by the factory. Snuff powder originated in the UK town of Great Harwood and was famously ground in the town's monument prior to local distribution and transport further up north to Scotland.
Types of Snuff
European (dry) snuff is intended to be sniffed up the nose. Snuff is not "snorted" because snuff shouldn't get past the nose, i.e.; into sinuses, throat or lungs. European snuff comes in several varieties: Plain, Toast (fine ground - very dry), "Medicated" (menthol, camphor, eucalyptus, etc.), Scented, and Schmalzler, a German variety. The major brand names of European snuffs are: Toque Tobacco (UK), Bernards (Germany), Fribourg & Treyer (UK), Gawith (UK), Gawith Hoggarth] (UK), Hedges (UK), Lotzbeck (Germany), McChrystal's (UK), Pöschl (Germany) and Wilsons of Sharrow (UK), TUTUN-CTC (Moldova).
American (moist) snuff is much stronger, and is intended to be dipped. It comes in two varieties—"sweet" and "salty." Until the early 20th century, snuff dipping was popular in the United States among rural people, who would often use sweet barkless twigs to apply it to their gums. Popular brands are Tube Rose and Navy.
Moist snuff is also referred to as dipping tobacco or smokeless tobacco, and its use is known as dipping. In the Southern states, taking a "dip" of moist snuff is called "putting a rub in," the moist snuff in the mouth is known as a "rub." This is occasionally referred to as "snoose" in New England and the Midwest and is derived from the Scandinavian word for snuff, "snus." Like the word, the origins of moist snuff are Scandinavian, and the oldest American brands indicate that by their names. However, snuff may also be called a "dinger" or a "lipper" in New England, and its user may "pack a dinger." American Moist snuff is made from dark fire-cured tobacco that is ground, sweetened, and aged by the factory. Prominent North American brands are Copenhagen, Skoal, Timber Wolf, Chisholm, Grizzly, and Kodiak.
Some modern smokeless tobacco brands, such as Kodiak, have an aggressive nicotine delivery. This is accomplished with a higher dose of nicotine than cigarettes, a high pH level (which helps nicotine enter the blood stream faster), and a high portion of unprotonated (free base) nicotine.
It has been suggested by The Economist magazine that the ban on smoking tobacco indoors in some areas, such as Britain and New York City, may lead to a resurgence in the popularity of snuff as an alternative to tobacco smoking. Although the large-scale closure of British mines in the 1980s deprived the snuff industry of its major market since snuff became unfashionable (miners took snuff underground instead of smoking to avoid lethal explosions and fires), sales at Britain's largest snuff retailer have reportedly been rising at about 5% per year.

Chewing tobacco

Chewing is one of the oldest ways of consuming tobacco leaves. Native Americans in both North and South America chewed the leaves of the plant, frequently mixed with lime. Modern chewing tobacco is produced in three forms: twist, plug, and scrap. A few manufacturers in the United Kingdom produce particularly strong twist tobacco meant for use in smoking pipes rather than chewing. These twists are not mixed with lime although they may be flavored with whiskey, rum, cherry or other flavors common to pipe tobacco.
Twist is the oldest form. One to three high-quality leaves are braided and twisted into a rope while green, and then are cured in the same manner as other tobacco. This was originally devised by sailors due to fire hazards of smoking at sea, and until recently this was done by farmers for their personal consumption, in addition to other tobacco intended for sale. Modern twist is occasionally lightly sweetened. It is still sold commercially, but rarely seen outside of Appalachia. Popular brands are Mammoth Cave, Moore's Red Leaf, and Cumberland Gap. Users cut a piece off the twist and chew it, expectorating.
Plug chewing tobacco is made by pressing together cured tobacco leaves in a sweet (often molasses-based) syrup. Originally this was done by hand, but since the second half of the 19th century leaves were pressed between large tin sheets. The resulting sheet of tobacco is cut into plugs. Like twist, consumers sometimes cut, but more often bite off, a piece of the plug to chew. Major brands are Axton's, Days Work, and Cannonball.
Scrap, or looseleaf chewing tobacco, was originally the excess of plug manufacturing. It is sweetened like plug tobacco, but sold loose in bags rather than a plug. Looseleaf is one of the more popular forms of tobacco in modern times. Among those, popular brands are Red Man, Beechnut, Mail Pouch and Southern Pride. Looseleaf chewing tobacco can also be dipped.


Swedish snus is different in that it is made from steam-cured tobacco, made in other ways than fire-cured, and its health effects are markedly different, with epidemiological studies showing in lower rates of cancer and other tobacco-related health problems than cigarettes, American "Chewing Tobacco", Indian Gutka or African other. Prominent Swedish brands are Swedish Match, General, Ettan, and Tre Ankare. In the Scandinavian countries, moist tobacco comes either in loose powder form, to be pressed into a small ball or ovoid either by hand or with the use of a special tool. It is sometimes packaged in small bags, suitable for placing inside the upper lip, called "portion snus". These small bags keep the loose tobacco from becoming stuck between the users teeth; they also produce less spittle when in contact with mucous membranes inside the mouth which extends the usage time of the tobacco product.
Since it is not smoked, snuff in general generates less of the nitrosamines and other carcinogens in the tar that forms from the partially anaerobic reactions in the smoldering smoked tobacco. The steam curing of snus rather than fire-curing or flue-curing of other smokeless tobaccos has been demonstrated to generate even fewer of such compounds than other options of snuff; 2.8 parts per mil for Ettan brand compared to as high as 127.9 parts per mil in American brands, according to a study by the State of Massachusetts Health Department. It is hypothesized that the widespread use of snus by Swedish men (estimated at 30% of Swedish men, possibly because it is much cheaper than cigarettes), displacing tobacco smoking and other varieties of snuff, is responsible for the incidence of tobacco-related mortality in men being significantly lower in Sweden than any other European country. In contrast, since women are much less likely to use snus, their rate of tobacco-related deaths in Sweden is similar to that in other European countries. Snus is clearly less harmful than other tobacco products; according to Kenneth Warner, director of the University of Michigan Tobacco Research Network,
"The Swedish government has studied this stuff to death, and to date, there is no compelling evidence that it has any adverse health consequences. ... Whatever they eventually find out, it is dramatically less dangerous than smoking."
Public health researchers maintain that, nevertheless, even the low nitrosamine levels in snus cannot be completely risk free, but snus proponents maintain that inasmuch as snus is used as a substitute for smoking or a means to quit smoking, the net overall effect is positive, similar to the effect of nicotine patches, for instance. Snus is banned in the European Union countries outside of Sweden (regular snus, not portion, is allowed in Denmark and snus is also becoming a regular among Norwegians, as cigarettes are seen by Norwegian popular culture as untrendy and much more unhealthy than snus). Although this is officially for health reasons, it is widely regarded, in fact, as being for economic reasons, since other smokeless tobacco products (mainly from India) associated with much greater risk to health are sold too.
Although it lacks the carcinogenicity of high levels of nitrosamines, however, any harmful effects of nicotine will still be seen with snus usage. Current research concentrates on nicotine's effect on the circulatory system and on the pancreas.
On June 11, 2006, Reynolds Tobacco announced that the new be nem marketing brand of Camel snus in Portland, Oregon and Austin, Texas by the end of the month. The product would be manufactured in Sweden, in conjunction with British American Tobacco, manufacturers of BAT snus.

Creamy snuff

Creamy snuff is a tobacco paste, consisting of tobacco, clove oil, glycerin, spearmint, menthol, and camphor, and sold in a toothpaste tube. It is marketed mainly to women in India, and is known by the brand names Ipco (made by Asha Industries), Denobac, Tona, Ganesh. It is locally known as "mishri" in some parts of Maharashtra. According to the U.S. NIH-sponsored 2002 Smokeless Tobacco Fact Sheet, it is marketed as a dentifrice. The same factsheet also mentions that it is "often used to clean teeth". The manufacturer recommends letting the paste linger in the mouth before rinsing.


Gutka (also spelled gutkha, guttkha, guthka) is a preparation of crushed betel nut, tobacco, and sweet or savory flavorings. It is manufactured in India and exported to a few other countries. A mild stimulant, it is sold across India in small, individual-size packets. It is consumed much like chewing tobacco, and like chewing tobacco it is considered responsible for oral cancer and other severe negative health effects.
Used by millions of adults, it is also marketed to children. Some packaging does not mention tobacco as an ingredient, and some brands are pitched as candies - featuring packaging with children's faces and are brightly colored. Some are chocolate-flavored, and some are marketed as breath fresheners.

Tobacco water

Tobacco water is a traditional organic insecticide used in domestic gardening. Tobacco dust can be used similarly.
It is produced by boiling strong tobacco in water, or by steeping the tobacco in water for a longer period. When cooled the mixture can be applied as a spray, or 'painted' on to the leaves of garden plants, where it will prove deadly to insects.
Basque angulero fishermen kill immature eels (elvers) in an infusion of tobacco leaves before parboiling them in salty water for transportation to market as angulas, a seasonal delicacy.

Tobacco paste treatment for stinging insects

Topical tobacco paste is sometimes recommended as a treatment for wasp, hornet, fire ant, scorpion, and bee stings. An amount equivalent to the contents of a cigarette is mashed in a cup with about a 0.5 to 1 teaspoon of water to make a paste that is then applied to the affected area. Paste has a diameter of 4 to 5 cm (1.5 to 2 inches) and may need to be moistened in dry weather. If made and applied immediately, complete remission is common within 20–30 minutes, at which point the paste can be removed. The next day there may be a some residual itching, but virtually no swelling or redness. There seems to be no scientific evidence, as yet, that this common home remedy works to relieve pain. For about 2 percent of people, allergic reactions can be life-threatening and require emergency treatment. For more on this, see bee stings.



  • Breen, T. H. (1985). Tobacco Culture. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-00596-6. Source on tobacco culture in eighteenth-century Virginia pp. 46–55
  • W.K. Collins and S.N. Hawks. "Principles of Flue-Cured Tobacco Production" 1st Edition, 1993
  • Fuller, R. Reese (Spring 2003). Perique, the Native Crop. Louisiana Life.
  • Gately, Iain. Tobacco: A Cultural History of How an Exotic Plant Seduced Civilization. Grove Press, 2003. ISBN 0-8021-3960-4.
  • Graves, John. "Tobacco that is not Smoked" in From a Limestone Ledge (the sections on snuff and chewing tobacco) ISBN 0-394-51238-3
  • Grehan, James. “Smoking and “Early Modern” Sociability: The Great Tobacco Debate in the Ottoman Middle East (Seventeenth to Eighteenth Centuries)”. The American Historical Review, Vol. III, Issue 5. 2006. 22 March 2008
  • Killebrew, J. B. and Myrick, Herbert (1909). Tobacco Leaf: Its Culture and Cure, Marketing and Manufacture. Orange Judd Company. Source for flea beetle typology (p. 243)
  • Poche, L. Aristee (2002). Perique tobacco: Mystery and history.
  • Tilley, Nannie May. The Bright Tobacco Industry 1860–1929 ISBN 0-405-04728-2. Source on flea beetle prevention (pp. 39–43), and history of flue-cured tobacco
  • Rivenson A., Hoffmann D., Propokczyk B. et al. Induction of lung and pancreas exocrine tumors in F344 rats by tobacco-specific and areca-derived N-nitrosamines. Cancer Res (48) 6912–6917, 1988. (link to abstract; free full text pdf available)
  • Schoolcraft, Henry R. Historical and Statistical Information respecting the Indian Tribes of the United States (Philadelphia, 1851-57)
  • Shechter, Relli. Smoking, Culture and Economy in the Middle East: The Egyptian Tobacco Market 1850-2000. New York: I.B. Tauris & Co. Ltd., 2006 ISBN 1-84511-1370
chaw in Arabic: تبغ
chaw in Aragonese: Tabaco
chaw in Min Nan: Hun-chháu
chaw in Bulgarian: Тютюн
chaw in Catalan: Tabac
chaw in Czech: Tabák
chaw in Danish: Tobak
chaw in German: Tabak
chaw in Estonian: Tubakas
chaw in Modern Greek (1453-): Καπνός (φυτό)
chaw in Spanish: Tabaco
chaw in Esperanto: Tabako
chaw in French: Tabac
chaw in Galician: Tabaco
chaw in Korean: 담배 (식물)
chaw in Croatian: Duhan
chaw in Indonesian: Tembakau
chaw in Icelandic: Tóbak
chaw in Italian: Nicotiana tabacum
chaw in Hebrew: טבק
chaw in Javanese: Tembako
chaw in Swahili (macrolanguage): Tumbaku
chaw in Latin: Tabacum
chaw in Latvian: Tabaka
chaw in Luxembourgish: Tubak
chaw in Lithuanian: Tabakas
chaw in Hungarian: Dohány
chaw in Macedonian: Тутун
chaw in Dutch: Tabak
chaw in Japanese: タバコ
chaw in Norwegian: Tobakk
chaw in Norwegian Nynorsk: Tobakk
chaw in Narom: P'tun
chaw in Polish: Tytoń
chaw in Portuguese: Tabaco
chaw in Russian: Табак
chaw in Albanian: Duhani
chaw in Simple English: Tobacco
chaw in Serbian: Дуван
chaw in Sundanese: Bako
chaw in Finnish: Tupakat
chaw in Swedish: Tobak
chaw in Turkish: Tütün
chaw in Ukrainian: Тютюн
chaw in Vlaams: Toebak
chaw in Yiddish: טאבאקא
chaw in Chinese: 烟草
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