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Research Paper Open Access
The characterization and classification of smokeless tobacco products has been a continuously evolving process. This is based on a number of different parameters like nicotine content, moisture content, amount of heavy metals, pH, and in vitro cytotoxicity assays. Their contexts often vary between countries, research institutions, and legal requirements. The categorisation of these products is quite challenging due to the diffused sample sizes, diverse array of branded products on offer, and the absence of a centralized manufacturing facility. This study aims at a systematic classification of 10 smokeless tobacco product samples from the retail market based on their potential toxicity upon long-term use. The estimation of potential toxicity follows a well-established method that employs the concentration of toxic metals in the different samples. The potential toxicity as well as heavy metal concentrations of the smokeless tobacco products analysed was found to be much higher than acceptable limits. For instance, the levels of lead, cadmium, copper and zinc of 2.5, 1, 4 and 23 ppm, respectively, are well above their recommended limits. The results from the study indicate that chronic use of smokeless tobacco products is a significant health risk, especially in the vulnerable population. Further studies of this nature will help establish a toxicological fingerprint on the diverse class of products that floods the market now.
Smokeless tobacco products, tobacco pH, chewing tobacco, potential toxicity, trace metals