Smokeless tobacco has many names — chew, dip, snuff, snus — and is a growing problem, especially among Arizona’s young people who often use it as a cheap and convenient substitute for cigarettes. To read more about the dangers of smokeless tobacco and its effect on Arizonans, visit www.tobaccofreearizona.com.
The 2010 Arizona Youth Survey (AYS)1 found that smokeless tobacco use is rising among 8th through 12th graders in Arizona. Rates are as high as eight percent (8%) among 12th grade students. This increased from 5.4 percent of 12th grade students in 2004 to 8.1 percent in 2010.
“This is an alarming trend,” says Carolyn Holman of the Maricopa County Department of Public Health, Office of Oral Health. “We’ve done a good job getting the message to youth about the dangers of smoking – we need to also make sure they know chewing tobacco is dangerous.”
The percentage of adults using chew in Arizona has held at 3.08 percent. This means approximately 139,000 Arizonans are smokeless tobacco users. (2009 AZ BRFSS). Overall, more men than women use chew tobacco.2
In response to both declining cigarette sales and tougher smoke-free laws around the country, tobacco companies are developing more types of chewing tobacco products and marketing them as alternatives to smoking indoors and as providing quit assistance. Tobacco companies are offering many new addictive alternatives that come in fruit and mint flavors – and look like candies and breathe mints – which are very attractive to young people.
“Tobacco kills, no matter if it’s a cigarette, a cigar, a chew or snuff, or a roll-your-own,” says Stephen S. Michael, MS, Director of the Arizona Smokers’ Helpline (ASHLine). Michael says that research of smokeless products must evaluate what harm is caused by the product along with how the product is marketed. Some tobacco companies market smokeless tobacco as a smoking quit aid. “If erroneously marketed smokeless products result in more people using tobacco, it results in even more deaths, overall.”
Michael adds, “It’s important to spread the message that smokeless tobacco doesn’t mean harmless tobacco. There are 28 known carcinogens in chew.” “Through With Chew” Week is a health recognition week designed to get the message out about the dangers of chewing tobacco and increase awareness of its negative health effects. This year, “Through With Chew” Week is Feb. 20-26. Various events will be taking place around the state to get information out to youth about the dangers of chew including a booth for youth at the Spring Training Baseball Fan Fair at the Peoria Sports Complex, 16101 N. 83rd Ave., Peoria, Ariz. on Saturday, Feb. 26 from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Since a support system like ASHLine can make the difference for people who decide to stop using tobacco, it’s important that chewers know ASHLine coaches are here for them too! Michael said. The ASHLine has a nearly 40 percent successful quit rate for its clients – that’s almost two times the success rate of other quitlines nationally. ASHLine offers free telephone quit coaching at 1-800-55-66-222 (English and Spanish) and free online quit coaching services via WebQuit ™ at www.ASHLine.org.
Published on behalf of Arizona Smokers’ Helpline
Funded by the state tax on tobacco products through the Bureau of Tobacco and Chronic Disease at the Arizona Department of Health Services, the Arizona Smokers’ Helpline and ASHLine.org have been helping people quit tobacco since 1995. Free telephone and Web-based quit services are provided to all Arizonans free of charge. For information, call 1-800-55-66-222 or visit www.ASHLine.org.
About “Through With Chew” Week
Through With Chew Week was established in 1989 by the American Academy of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery, Inc. It is held the third week of February each year to bring awareness to the negative effects of all chewing tobacco products.
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