Monday, February 20, 2017

Smokeless Tobacco Use Remains a Problem

Department of Health-Franklin, Tobacco Free Franklin Partnership and Tobacco Free Florida are raising awareness during "Through with Chew Week"

Apalachicola, FL - Department of Health-Franklin, Tobacco Free Franklin Partnership and the Florida Department of Health's Tobacco Free Florida program are raising awareness about the dangers of smokeless tobacco - like chew and dip - during Through With Chew Week. This national public awareness campaign was created to reduce the use of smokeless tobacco among young people, and Tobacco Free Florida aims to help combat this deadly addiction. Through With Chew Week takes place Feb. 19-25, with the Great American Spit Out - a day when smokeless tobacco users join to quit - on Feb. 23.

Although the youth cigarette smoking rate in Florida decreased over 50 percent between 2012 and 2016, the number of Florida high school students who reported current use of smokeless tobacco products decreased only 24.5 percent in those same four years. The disproportionately higher rate of smokeless tobacco use in rural areas is also alarming - current youth smokeless tobacco use is more than three times higher in rural communities than in non-rural areas. According to the Florida Youth Tobacco Survey in 2016, 7.6% of Franklin County's youth ages 11-17 reported current use of smokeless tobacco products compared to 3.6% in 2014.

"Smokeless tobacco products contain harmful chemicals that are known to cause cancer," said Marsha Lindeman, Administrator for the Florida Department of Health in Franklin and Gulf Counties.  "Youth who use smokeless products are more likely to experiment with other types of tobacco.  Studies have shown that adolescent boys who use smokeless tobacco have a higher risk of becoming cigarette smokers.

To raise awareness about the dangers of smokeless tobacco use, Department of Health-Franklin will set up a Great American Spit Out table in the clinic's reception area.  Franklin County SWAT will have display tables set up at their schools as well.  The event will take place Feb. 17th through 24th.  The tables will have Quit Kits, information on Smokeless Tobacco use, pledge cards and sugarless gum.

At least 28 cancer-causing chemicals have been identified in smokeless tobacco. Smokeless tobacco users have an 80 percent higher risk of oral cancer and a 60 percent higher risk of esophageal cancer and pancreatic cancer compared to non-users. Apart from cancer, smokeless tobacco users can develop other oral health issues, such as mouth sores, gum recession, tooth decay and permanent discoloration of teeth.  The use of some types of smokeless tobacco products is also associated with an increased risk of heart disease and fatal stroke.

Currently, there is no scientific or medical evidence that proves smokeless tobacco use is an effective method to help people quit smoking. Floridians who want to quit any form of tobacco have access to the state's free and proven-effective resources. For more information, please visit