Shammah (Smokeless Tobacco) and Public Health

Document Type : Systematic Review and Meta-analysis


Department of Forensic Chemistry, College of Forensic Sciences, Naif Arab University for Security Sciences, Riyadh-Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.


Shammah is a preparation of smokeless tobacco (ST) that is frequently used in the Arabian Peninsula, especially in Saudi Arabia. A mixture of powdered tobacco, lime, ash, black pepper, oils and flavorings, shammah in is placed in the buccal cavity or lower labial vestibule of the mouth. The user (or dipper) spits out insoluble debris. ST is linked to a number of harmful effects such as dental disease, oral cancer, oesophagus cancer, and pancreas cancer. It also causes adverse reproductive effects including stillbirth, premature birth and low birth weight. The importation of ST products is prohibited in Saudi Arabia. Legislative action to combat the use of ST (moist snuff and chewing tobacco) in Saudi Arabia appeared in 1990. The actual percentage use may be higher than reported since shammah is illegal in Saudi Arabia and there may be some unwillingness to admit to its use. Data on ST use in the Arabian Peninsula are sparse. Most studies conducted there focused on the prevalence of shammah use among adolescents rather than among adults. This review paper aimed to understand the pattern of use of shammah and its adverse health effects. It also aimed to provide suitable epidemiological data for public health policy makers.


Main Subjects

Volume 18, Issue 5
May 2017
Pages 1183-1190
  • Receive Date: 26 December 2016
  • Revise Date: 26 January 2017
  • Accept Date: 28 May 2017
  • First Publish Date: 28 May 2017