According to Joan McGowan, Chair of Tobacco-Free Michigan and Coordinator of the Michigan Spit Tobacco Education Program, “spit tobacco and other tobacco products are not safe alternatives to smoking cigarettes.”
“Spit tobacco is highly addictive, contains multiple harmful chemicals, and causes oral cancer, gum disease, cavities, and heart problems. Only half of those diagnosed with oral cancer survive five years,” she said.
“We’re using Through With Chew Week to help people in our communities understand the dangers of using spit tobacco, educate young people about the benefits of staying tobacco-free, and to increase awareness of the tools available to help those who use tobacco to quit,” said Teresa Loudenslager, who coordinates tobacco control activities in Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego counties for the Health Department of Northwest Michigan.
According to Matthew Pawlick, D.D.S., of Dental Clinics North, “dentists have a unique opportunity to help their patients quit using tobacco. Like physicians, dentists need to ask their patients at every visit about their tobacco use and help those who use it to quit,” he said. “Dentists are looking into their patients’ mouths and screening for oral health problems offering an excellent opportunity to provide education about the dangers of spit tobacco and cigarettes.”
“Through With Chew Week is a reminder that Michigan’s Tobacco Prevention Program does a great job with very little funding, helping people to quit using tobacco, protecting people from secondhand smoke, and preventing youth from starting to use tobacco,” said McGowan.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) & Prevention, Michigan should be spending a minimum of $12 per person on tobacco prevention, but the state currently invests just 50 cents per person. “Increasing funding would allow us to reduce the deaths and diseases caused by spit tobacco and cigarette use in our communities,” McGowan said.
The Health Department of Northwest Michigan is mandated by the Michigan Public Health Code to promote wellness, prevent disease, provide quality healthcare, address health problems of vulnerable populations, and protect the environment for the residents and visitors of Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego counties. For more information on National Through With Chew Week, visit www.throughwithchew.com or contact Teresa Loudenslager at 231-533-1012. Free help for quitting tobacco use is available at from the Michigan Tobacco Quit Line at 800-QUITNOW.