Submitted by Julie Russell RN
Tobacco Prevention Specialist
Through With Chew Week, Feb.14-20, calls attention to the dangers of using chew, which includes chewing tobacco and snuff. Chew contains at least 28 chemicals that have been found to cause cancer of the mouth, esophagus, and pancreas. Treating oral cancers can involve the removal of tissue and bones, including the tongue and jaw.
Smokeless tobacco not only causes cancer, but increases the risk of fatal stroke and heart attack, reduces fertility in men and contributes to oral disease.
On average, chew delivers a higher dose of nicotine than cigarettes, making the product more addictive and habit forming. Tobacco companies also make products such as flavored smokeless tobacco which attracts new users and young people under age 18. Snuff, snus, e-cigarettes, and other innovative nicotine addiction devices are being developed and marketed, all to produce nicotine dependence in children who would otherwise avoid tobacco. These products encourage youth and others to believe they are not as harmful as smoking tobacco. None of these new products have been proven safe.
In 2013, 25.8 percent of male high school seniors in Montana used smokeless tobacco and nearly 30 percent of Montana men, aged 18-34, currently use smokeless tobacco.
Through With Chew was started in 1989 by the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Foundation, Inc. The objective was to provide a public education campaign on spit tobacco, coordinated with dentists, healthcare providers, sports coaches and teachers. In 1994, Oral Health America’s National Spit Tobacco Education Program (NSTEP) partnered with TWC in attempts to break the connection between baseball and smokeless tobacco.
Through With Chew Week continues to be observed during the third full week in February, with the Great American Spit Out taking place the Thursday of that week. Challenge yourself or someone you love to give up chew Thursday, Feb. 18, in observance of the Great American Spit Out, and who knows, hopefully even quit for good!
The Montana Tobacco Quit Line is a free service available to all Montanans who would like to quit using smokeless tobacco or other tobacco products. Call the Quit Line at 1-800-QUITNOW or visit the website at www.QUITNOWMONTANA.com.