Spit tobacco, also known as chewing tobacco or snuff, contains 28 cancer causing agents. Use of spit tobacco increases a user's risk of oral cancer by 80%, and the risk of esophageal and pancreatic cancer by 60%. Oral cancer, the eighth leading cause of cancer in men, is one of the most difficult cancers to diagnose, treat, and cure. Only half of those diagnosed survive longer than five years. Tobacco use is a leading cause of oral cancer, and quitting tobacco today immediately lowers the health risks associated with use.
In addition to traditional spit tobacco, there are numerous other forms of new and emerging tobacco and non-tobacco nicotine products available on the market today. The tobacco industry markets these products as an alternative to smoking cigarettes, and portrays the products as less harmful than smoking cigarettes. However, there is no evidence indicating these new products are any safer. Quitting tobacco use or addiction to nicotine is one of the best steps that people can take to improve their health.
Results from a community scan conducted in Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego counties indicate that these new tobacco and non-tobacco nicotine products are being sold and marketed in various venues within the community.
According to Lynne DeMoor, who coordinates the Tobacco Reduction Coalition for the Health Department of Northwest Michigan, "The most challenging aspect of these new products is their appeal to young people. The packaging, advertising, and flavors of these products are very difficult to distinguish from candy. Kids can begin a lifetime of addiction to nicotine with these products, and be at risk for all of the health issues associated with tobacco use. We want parents and kids to be aware that these products are not a safe alternative to smoking cigarettes."
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 help in quitting tobacco use, talk with your healthcare provider, contact the Michigan Tobacco Quitline at 1-800-784-8669, or visit www.nwhealth.org. For more information about Through With Chew Week visit www.throughwithchew.com .