Back to Conference page
The 13th World Conference on Tobacco OR Health
Building capacity for a tobacco-free world
July 12-15, 2006, Washington, DC, USA
Objective: Chimó is a kind of chewing tobacco typical of the Andean states of Venezuela. It is prepared by boiling crushed tobacco leaves in alkalinized water. Chimó has been rarely studied and never regulated; there are no sanitary requirements for its production and there's little knowledge about its composition. It's been suggested that chimó causes several oral pathologies, including mouth cancer. The objectives of this work were (1)To study the impact of chimó on both tissue and cell level, correlating its use to the injuries often found in regular users; and (2)To study the composition of chimó and its impact on consumers, evaluating a possible industrialization of a traditional tobacco product by manipulation of pH and nicotine levels.
Methods: Rodents were inoculated at controlled intervals with aqueous solutions of chimó. Different concentrations/intervals/frequency were used. In a related study, the cytotoxicity of solutions of chimó was studied on human larynx cell lines. Samples were then taken and evaluated using optical microscopy. Thirdly, determinations of nicotine and pH were made for several brands of chimó, correlating the results to the response of users .
Results: Both tissue and cellular damage were evident even in the cases of only one inoculation. These changes included oedema, hyperemia, vasculitis, thrombosis and necrosis in the case of tissues, and cell disruption and nuclear damage in the case of human cells. Nicotine/pH results show that these values are possibly being manipulated to attract consumers, turning chimó from a traditional product into a growing nationwide industry.