“Through With Chew Week” Emphasizes No “Safe” Tobacco Products

As the harmful effects of smoking continue to receive national attention, tobacco companies have shifted their focus to smokeless tobacco products, claiming them to be a “safe” alternative to smoke cigarettes and actively working to build new customers. “Through With Chew Week,” February 17-23, highlights the truth, that there are no “safe” tobacco products.

In Montana, tobacco companies have long used our culture ofe independence and our rural Western image against us with targeted smokeless product marketing. Increasingly, however, these companies are shifting product flavorings, package designs and marketing campaigns to appeal to a younger, trendier audience – an audience that increasingly includes teens. But no amount of fruit flavor or fancy marketing can alter the harmful effects of smokeless products, including tooth decay, gum disease, cancer, heart attack, or stroke.

“Smokeless tobacco is re-emerging as a dangerous threat to the collective health and wellness of Montanans,” said Nicole Bronec, reACT Youth Coordinator. “In the past, smokeless products were treated as a niche market for the tobacco industry. But with increased FDA oversight on cigarettes, the tobacco companies are escalating efforts to convince current smokers to adopt smokeless when they are in places that otherwise don’t allow smoking. In fact, research shows that people who use both cigarettes and smokeless products have an extremely difficult time trying to quit either.”

Despite the tobacco industry’s marketing hype, the fact is that smokeless products can deliver a high dose of nicotine equal to that of two cigarettes. Meanwhile, smoking and smokeless tobacco use accounts to an estimated 80 percent of all oral cancers, as well as taking a role in heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke. American Cancer Society research discovered that men who switched from cigarettes to snuff or chewing tobacco had higher death rates than former smokers who stopped using all tobacco products.

This year, smokeless tobacco users are encouraged to quit during “Through With Chew Week.” Support to quit can come from friends and family, as well as from dentists and health care providers.

Local activities in Great Falls include a Pledge Wall and a tobacco educational table at North Middle School. The students will be able to pledge against using tobacco products on Wednesday, February 20, 2013 at North Middle School from 10:20am to 12:30pm.

The Montana Tobacco Quit Line, 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669), offers free support to Montanans who are trying to quit using smokeless tobacco. They offer free coaching as well as free patches, gum, or lozenges, as well as discounts on prescription quitting medications.

For more information about smokeless tobacco or other tobacco topics, please contact Nicole Bronec at 452-0881 x306 or visit CCHD’s Tobacco Use Prevention program online.