When It Comes to Tobacco, Smokeless Does Not Mean Harmless
- Hillsborough County Anti-Drug Alliance (HCADA) is Raising Awareness During
Through With Chew Week -
TALLAHASSEE — Tobacco products like chew, dip and snuff are not harmless. But
because they’re smokeless, youth and adults may underestimate the serious health
risks associated with these products. In fact, while cigarette use continues to decline,
smokeless tobacco use has remained steady among Hillsborough’s youth for more
than a decade.
To help raise awareness about the dangers of smokeless tobacco, Hillsborough
County Anti-Drug Alliance and the Florida Department of Health’s Bureau of Tobacco
Free Florida will observe Through With Chew Week from Feb.17-23.
In collaboration with the Tampa Bay Times-Newspaper In Education (NIE) and
surrounding county and community partners, HCADA co-sponsored “Be Tobacco
Free” tobacco prevention curriculum for all middle schools in Hillsborough County.
The curriculum is scheduled to be available in print and online beginning Feb. 17.
“The reality is that tobacco companies look to their own interests by deliberately
targeting youth with tobacco ads which imply that flavored, smokeless tobacco is
harmless” states Gary White, a Tobacco Prevention Specialist with HCADA. Mr.
White went on to say, “Given the fact that nearly 90% of current tobacco users began
before age 18, it makes good sense to increase the awareness of and dispel these
harmful myths starting at the middle school level.” To learn more about the NIE
project or to find out how you can get involved, visit HCADA’s tobacco prevention
webpage at http://hcada.com/wp12/task-forces/tobacco/.
Constant exposure to tobacco juices from these smokeless products can cause oral
cancers, which can form within just five years of regular use,i and can cause cancer
of the esophagus, pharynx, larynx, stomach and pancreas.ii Smokeless tobacco use
can increase the risk of oral cancers by 80 percent and the risk of pancreatic and
esophageal cancer by 60 percent, according to a 2008 study from the World Health
Organization (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer.iii
Aside from the increased risk of cancer, using smokeless tobacco can increase the
risk of heart attack and stroke.iv It can lead to other oral problems such as mouth
sores, gum recession, tooth decay, and permanent discoloration of teeth.v
Smokeless tobacco use can also increase the risk of reproductive health problems
such as reduced sperm count and abnormal sperm cells for men. Women who use
smokeless tobacco may be at an increased risk of preeclampsia (a condition that
may include high blood pressure, fluid retention, and swelling), premature birth, and
low birth weight.vi
Like cigarettes, smokeless tobacco products contain nicotine, a highly addictive and dangerous chemical.
Smokeless tobacco users and cigarette smokers have comparable levels of nicotine in the blood, according to the
National Cancer Institute.vii
“Smokeless tobacco is not a safe alternative to smoking and the rate at which youth continue to use these products
is alarming,” said State Surgeon General and Secretary of Health Dr. John Armstrong. “Many of these young
people may be substituting cigarettes with smokeless tobacco in places where they can’t smoke, leading to a
stronger nicotine addiction that makes it harder for them to quit.”
Tobacco Free Florida has three ways to help smokeless tobacco users quit. Those who want to quit can double
their chances at success by using one of these free and convenient quit services. For more information, visit
For more information on smokeless tobacco, visit www.tobaccofreeflorida.com/smokelesstobacco.
ABOUT THROUGH WITH CHEW WEEK
This national annual health observance was established by the American Academy of Otolaryngology — Head and
Neck Surgery as an educational campaign designed to prevent and reduce the use of smokeless tobacco. Through
With Chew Week is now recognized by public health groups across the country. The week includes the Great
American Spit Out on Thursday, Feb. 21, which encourages smokeless tobacco users to plan in advance to quit
using smokeless tobacco that day, or to use the day to make a plan to quit.
ABOUT TOBACCO FREE FLORIDA
DOH’s Tobacco Free Florida campaign is a statewide cessation and prevention campaign funded by Florida’s
tobacco settlement fund.
Tobacco users interested in quitting are encouraged to use one of the state’s three ways to quit. To learn about
Tobacco Free Florida and the state’s free quit resources, visit www.tobaccofreeflorida.com or follow the campaign
on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TobaccoFreeFlorida or Twitter at www.twitter.com/tobaccofreefla.
i The S.T.O.P. Guide (The Smokeless Tobacco Outreach and Prevention Guide): A Comprehensive Directory of Smokeless Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Resources. Applied Behavioral Science Press, 1997; Hatsukami, D & Severson, H, “Oral Spit Tobacco: Addiction, Prevention and Treatment,” Nicotine & Tobacco Research 1:21-44, 1999
ii , National Cancer Institute, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Stockholm Centre of Public Health. Smokeless Tobacco Fact Sheets. Third International Conference on Smokeless Tobacco; Stockholm. September 22–25, 2002
iii Boffetta, P, et al., “Smokeless tobacco and cancer,” The Lancet 9:667-675, 2008
iv Boffetta, P, et al. “Use of smokeless tobacco and risk of myocardial infarction and stroke: systematic review with meta-analysis,” BMJ, 2009; 339 (aug18 2): b3060 DOI: 10.1136/bmj.b3060
v Tomar, SL. “Chewing Tobacco Use and Dental Caries Among U.S. Men,” Journal of the American Dental Association, 1999, 130: 160.
vi World Health Organization. Smokeless Tobacco and Some Tobacco-Specific N-Nitrosamines. International Agency for Research on Cancer Monographs on the Evaluationof Carcinogenic Risks to Humans Vol. 89. Lyon, France: World Health Organization, 2007 vii National Cancer Institute. Smokeless Tobacco or Health: An International Perspective. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute; 1992. Smoking and Tobacco Control Monograph 2.