chewing tobacco

New gene test detects early mouth cancer risk


Researchers from Queen Mary, University of London have developed a new gene test that can detect pre-cancerous cells in patients with benign-looking mouth lesions. The test could potentially allow at-risk patients to receive earlier treatment, significantly improving their chance of survival.

The study, published online in the International Journal of Cancer, showed that the quantitative Malignancy Index Diagnostic System (qMIDS) test had a cancer detection rate of 91-94 per cent when used on more than 350 head and neck tissue specimens from 299 patients in the UK and Norway. Mouth cancer affects more than 6,200 people in the UK each year and more than half a million people worldwide, with global figures estimated to rise above one million a year by 2030*. The majority of cases are caused by either smoking or chewing tobacco and drinking alcohol.

Mouth lesions are very common and only five to 30 per cent may turn into cancers. If detected in the early stages treatment can be curative, but until now no test has been able to accurately detect which lesions will become cancerous.

The current diagnostic gold standard is histopathology – where biopsy tissue taken during an operation is examined under a microscope by a pathologist . This is a relatively invasive procedure and many mouth cancers are being diagnosed at later stages when the chances of survival are significantly reduced. For patients presenting with advanced disease, survival rates are poor (10-30 per cent at five years).

Lead investigator and inventor of the test Dr Muy-Teck Teh, from the Institute of Dentistry at Queen Mary, University of London, said: “A sensitive test capable of quantifying a patient’s cancer risk is needed to avoid the adoption of a ‘wait-and-see’ intervention. Detecting cancer early, coupled with appropriate treatment can significantly improve patient outcomes, reduce mortality and alleviate long-term public healthcare costs.”

The qMIDS test measures the levels of 16 genes which are converted, via a diagnostic algorithm, into a “malignancy index” which quantifies the risk of the lesion becoming cancerous. It is less invasive than the standard histopathology methods as it requires only a 1-2 mm piece of tissue (less than half a grain of rice), and it takes less than three hours to get the results, compared to up to a week for standard histopathology.

Consultant oral and maxillofacial surgeon, Professor Iain Hutchison, founder of Saving Faces and co-author on the study, said: “We are excited about this new test as it will allow us to release patients with harmless lesions from regular follow-up and unnecessary anxiety, whilst identifying high-risk patients at an early stage and giving them appropriate treatment. Mouth cancer, if detected early when the disease is most receptive to surgical treatment, has a very high cure rate.”

Dr Catherine Harwood, a consultant dermatologist and a co-author on the study, said: “Our preliminary studies have shown promising results indicating that the test can potentially also be used for identifying patients with suspicious skin or vulva lesions, offering the opportunity of earlier and less invasive treatments.”

Whilst this proof-of-concept study validates qMIDS as a diagnostic test for early cancer detection, further clinical trials are required to evaluate the long-term clinical benefits of the test for mouth cancers.

With further development it could potentially be applied to other cancer types as the test is based on a cancer gene – FOXM1 – which is highly expressed in many cancer types. In this study the researchers used the qMIDS test to detect early cancer cells in vulva and skin specimens with promising results.

Dr Teh’s earlier research on FOXM1 – which showed that when FOXM1 is overexpressed the protein loses its control over cell growth, allowing cells to proliferate abnormally –was awarded ‘Molecule of the Year 2010’ by the International Society for Molecular and Cell Biology and Biotechnology Protocols and Research.

1. This study was jointly funded by the Facial Surgery Research Foundation – Saving Faces (UK), the Bergen Medical Research Foundation, Norwegian Cancer Research Association, British Skin Foundation and Cancer Research UK.

2. Teh M-T, et al. (2012) ‘Exploiting FOXM1-Orchestrated Molecular Network for Early Squamous Cell Carcinoma Diagnosis and Prognosis’ is published in the peer-reviewed journal International Journal of Cancer.

October, 2012|Oral Cancer News|

Dentists asked to help in curbing mouth cancer


The increasing cases of oral cancer have pushed the Cancer Research UK to ask dentists to look for cancer related symptoms in their patients. By checking the mouth properly, dentists can gauge whether or not a person is prone of developing mouth cancer.

Mouth cancer can be lethal if timely treatment isn’t provided to the patients. Smoking and heavy drinking could be one of the reasons behind causing mouth cancer. Chewing tobacco is yet again contributing to mouth cancer. While examining the patients, the dentists have been advised to look for cancer contributing factors.

It is estimated that by 2030 there will be an increase in the number of mouth cancer patients. People under the age group of 50 years are growing becoming victim of mouth cancer. Oral sex is yet another factor that could lead to mouth cancer.

People need to be made aware about the growing incidences of mouth cancer so that innocent lives could be saved. Avoiding heavy drinking, smoke and unhygienic oral sex can help in preventing mouth cancer. Besides, dentists can also help in saving lives by detecting mouth cancer earlier through regular checkups. It is hoped that the dentists will take serious note of the recommendations.

September, 2012|Oral Cancer News|

Head and neck cancer rates for smokeless tobacco described

Source: Health News Observer

September 16, 2012 | by Steven Rothrock MD

Smokeless tobacco is tobacco that is not burned or smoked. Other terms used for smokeless tobacco include chewing tobacco, spitting tobacco, dip, chew, and snuff. Typically these products are held in the mouth until juices are built up and spit out. Spitless products are available and some people choose to swallow the juices instead. Nicotine, which can be addictive, and cancer-causing agents are absorbed through the mouth’s lining.

While using smokeless tobacco has been associated with many different cancers, the magnitude of the risk has not been previously well described. This week, in an online edition of the International Journal of Cancer, researchers sought to identify the magnitude of the risk of developing head and neck cancer in those who used smokeless tobacco. Towards that goal, the risk of cancer was compared between 1,046 users and 1,239 non-users of smokeless tobacco. After adjusting for age, sex, race, education, cigarette smoking, and alcohol use, any use of smokeless tobacco was associated with a 20% increased risk of head and neck cancer. Use of smokeless tobacco for 10 or more years had a 320% higher rate of developing these cancers compared to those who never used these products.

In addition to head and neck cancers, users of these products are at risk for other cancers (e.g. esophageal, pancreatic, kidney), heart disease, high blood pressure, pregnancy loss, premature birth or low birth weights, low sperm counts, not to mention tooth gum disease and tooth decay. For those wishing to quit, help is available at the government website

This news story was resourced by the Oral Cancer Foundation, and vetted for appropriateness and accuracy.

September, 2012|Oral Cancer News|

The danger in smokeless tobacco products

Source: (Uganda, Africa)
Author: Racheal Ninsiima

Tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of death among adults and is a significant factor for several mouth, throat, lung and heart diseases.

It is also a major contributor to morbidity. Globally, the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that tobacco causes about 71% of lung cancer, 42% of chronic respiratory diseases, 20% of global tuberculosis incidence and nearly 10% of cardiovascular diseases. But the issue of smokeless products that contain tobacco has for long been ignored.

According to Dr Sheila Ndyanabangi, the tobacco control focal point person at the ministry of Health, schoolchildren are also consuming the products. This is because sometimes the ingredients are written in foreign languages which may not be understood by the consumers.

What is smokeless tobacco?
There are two basic forms of smokeless tobacco: snuff and chewing tobacco. An article ‘smokeless tobacco and how to quit’ on the website, says snuff is finely ground tobacco packaged in cans and is sold either dry or moist. The nicotine in the snuff is absorbed through the tissues of the mouth as it is placed between the cheek and gum.

Snuff is designed to be both “Smoke-free” and “spit-free” and is marketed as a discreet way to use tobacco. Chewed tobacco comes along as long strands of tobacco leaves that are chewed by the user who thereafter spits out the brown liquid (saliva mixed with tobacco).

Types of smokeless tobacco
Mouth fresheners:
The commonest is Kuber. It is a highly addictive tobacco drug disguised as a mouth freshener and packed in sachets similar to tea leaves. Kuber may be added to tea or simply licked. According to Dr Ndyanabangi, Kuber, rich in nicotine, is widely consumed by secondary school students and taxi drivers.

Results of a research conducted by the Uganda Youth Development Link (UYDEL) in 2011 revealed that Kuber also contains drugs like cocaine and marijuana which may lead to hormonal change, impaired brain development, mental health disorders and heart problems.
Kuber is often chewed with mairungi leaves, sucked or taken with hot water as a beverage resulting in a drowsy feeling. Kuber is sold in shops and supermarkets.

Many people value chocolate as a delicacy. However, tobacco is one of the sweeteners added to some brands of chocolate, especially dark chocolate. Among the ingredients are: cocoa, sugar, cocoa butter, tobacco, soya lecithin, milk and gluten.

Menthol products:
Dr Ndyanabangi says people ought to be careful with menthol products such as toothpaste, mouthwash and gum; they may also contain tobacco. In some, menthol is used as a sweetener to make them useable and disguise the smell of tobacco. Other products include nicotine lollipops, wafers and water. Currently in the US, tablets are being investigated for any form of tobacco.

Nevertheless, the fact still stands; smokeless tobacco is as lethal as cigars. Dr Prossy Mugyenyi, the manager at the Centre for Tobacco Control in Africa (CTCA), says the tobacco in these smokeless products acts as a receptor and the person keeps demanding more and more.

“Just like a person becomes addicted to smoking and becomes a chain smoker, so do these smokeless products make one addictive to the tar and nicotine in them,” Mugyenyi says.

No safe tobacco
According to Dr Jackson Orem, head of the Uganda Cancer Institute, there is no safe form of tobacco and at least 28 chemicals in smokeless tobacco have been found to cause cancer. Smokeless tobacco products raise the incidence of cancer, especially oral cancers like mouth, tongue and throat.

In addition, Mugyenyi says excessive exposure of one’s body to tobacco increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, teeth loss, gum disease and aneurysm (abnormal widening of a portion of an artery due to weakness in the wall of the blood vessel). However, despite the prevalent risk, Uganda does not have a comprehensive tobacco control law. The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FTCT) to which Uganda has been signatory since 2003 is not enforced.

“There is a lot of illicit trade in the tobacco industry and the fines of Shs 20,000 to Shs 30,000 stipulated in the statutory instrument of 2004 to ban smoking in public places are not punitive enough and neither are they being enforced,” Ndyanabangi says.

Tobacco use and baseball


Like cigarettes, smokeless tobacco (snuff and chewing tobacco), cause mouth cancer, gum disease, and heart disease. Yet many think that chewing tobacco is safe or less so than smoking. This is not true!

In 1986, the Surgeon normal closed that the use of smokeless tobacco “is not a safe substitute for smoking cigarettes. It can cause cancer and a whole of noncancerous conditions and can lead to nicotine addiction and dependence.” Since 1991, the National Cancer institute (Nci) has officially recommended that the group avoid and desist the use of all tobacco products, including smokeless tobacco. Nci also recognizes that nitrosamines, found in tobacco products, are not safe at any level.
Chewing tobacco and baseball have a long tight affiliation, rooted in the cultural confidence among players and fans that baseball players chew tobacco and it is just part of the grand old game. This mystique is slowing changing with campaigns by ballplayers who have had or have seen friends with mouth cancer caused by chewing tobacco use.

Jeff Bagwell
Jeff Bagwell, retired first baseman with the Houston Astros and Joe Garagiola, a previous baseball player and commentator, campaign against tobacco use among children and addicted adults. In 1993, when Bagwell was 25-years-old, his dentist discovered leukoplakia, a whitish pre-cancerous sore in his mouth where he continually located chewing tobacco. About 5% of leukoplakias institute into cancer. Fortunately this did not happen to Jeff Bagwell due to the early detection by his dentist.

Rick Bender, The Man Without a Face
In 1988 Rick Bender, a 25 year old minor league baseball player advanced a large sore on the side of his tongue that would not go away for months. He began using ‘spitting tobacco’ when he was 12. After finding his dentist and then a biopsy by a specialist, he was diagnosed with mouth cancer.

Surgeons successfully removed the cancerous cells from Bender’s mouth and throat, taking a chunk of his tongue and the lymph nodes on the right side of his neck in the process. But removing the cancer also caused nerve damage that puny the use of his right arm, his throwing arm, which ended his baseball career. Later an infection occurred to the right side of Bender’s jaw after radiation therapy. As a result, it deteriorated and doctors had to remove his right jaw.

As a follow Rick Bender calls himself “the man without a face” and lectures on the dangers of ‘spitting tobacco’ throughout the nation. Bender visits schools and colleges over the country to dispel what he sees as the myths about chewing tobacco. He also addresses major and minor league baseball players each year at spring training.

Robert Leslie
Sonoma County has it own tragic baseball related, smokeless tobacco, and mouth cancer story. In June of 1998, Robert Leslie died at the young age of 31 from mouth cancer after years of chewing smokeless tobacco. He had been diagnosed four years prior and had bravely counseled youths against the use of smokeless tobacco after that point. Leslie, who was a star pitcher at Rancho Cotate High School, turned to coaching after a brief attempt at playing expert baseball. He was a popular coach at Casa Grande High School. He believed, rightly so, that the cancer had resulted from years of stuffing wads of smokeless tobacco between his gums and lower lip. He advocated against the use of chewing tobacco prior to his death. He is missed.

History Of Tobacco Use and Baseball
Tobacco has a long association with baseball. From the earlier beginnings of baseball in the late 1800′s, baseball players chewed tobacco to keep their mouths moist in dusty dirt parks of that era. Drinking water was thought to make one feel too heavy. Players also used tobacco spit to soften leather gloves and to give the spitball its wild gyrations canada viagra.

Chewing tobacco’s popularity among baseball players rose and fell with the times, most often trading places with cigarettes and cigars. The wrongful confidence that chewing tobacco caused the spread of tuberculosis lead to its reduction in use during the end of the nineteenth century. during the beginning of the twentieth century, it again rose to major use until after Wwii when cigarettes became more popular in the U.S.

During the 1950s, cigarettes reached their most prominence when teams legitimately had sponsored brands. For example, Giant’s fans (New York Giants that is) smoked only Chesterfield Cigarettes to show their team loyalty. during this era, baseball cards were often packaged with cigarettes. As a kid, I remember having my Dad buy Lucky Strikes so I could get the baseball cards.

In 1962, the Surgeon General’s record highlighted the cause and follow between smoking and heart disease and smoking and cancer. Believing that chewing tobacco was a safer product, baseball players took up smokeless tobacco again. Since then, smokeless tobacco has dominated the sport of baseball, from the major leagues down to the high school level. And similar to the targeted cigarette marketing of the 1950s, smokeless tobacco producers have promoted tobacco chewing straight through baseball players, even providing free samples in major and minor league clubhouses.

All tobacco, including smokeless tobacco, contains nicotine, which is addictive. The whole of nicotine absorbed from smokeless tobacco is 3 to 4 times the whole delivered by a cigarette. Nicotine is absorbed more slowly from smokeless tobacco than from cigarettes, but more nicotine per dose is absorbed from smokeless tobacco than from cigarettes. Also, the nicotine stays in the bloodstream for a longer time.

By giving players free samples of chew tobacco, the smokeless tobacco manufacturers were getting players hooked to the addictive drug nicotine in a tobacco goods that contains 28 cancer-causing substances. Even today, I saw a full-page magazine ad from R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. With a free coupon for Camel Snus. It was advertised as “Spitfree” and “Sold Cold” in large bold print, while in small print a warning stated, “this goods may cause gum disease and tooth loss.”

Big League Chew, a chewing gum aimed at children, is a goods that uses the deep association between baseball and chewing tobacco. Introduced in 1980, Big League Chew consists of shredded bubble gum, which resembles loose chewing tobacco. It is packaged in an aluminum foil pouch, similar to the containers of chewing tobacco, with the cartoon image of a baseball player on the outside. While candy cigarettes, other symbolic tobacco goods aimed at children, fell out of favor years ago, Big League Chew continues to be popular with kids.

Luckily, the love affair between baseball and smokeless tobacco seems to be subsiding. In 1993, minor league baseball banned all use of tobacco products among its teams. As follow fewer major leaguers are now coming up from those ranks using tobacco products. Campaigns are manufacture headway discouraging tobacco use and encouraging substitute habits like chewing gum or munching on sunflower seeds. Remember previous Giants employer Dusty Baker, setting an example for young players by stopping tobacco use and chewing sunflower seeds in the dugout?

Still an estimated 7.6 million Americans age 12 and older (3.4 percent) have used smokeless tobacco in the past month, and smokeless tobacco use is most common among young adults ages 18 to 25.

So if you use tobacco, please stop. It is the best thing you can do for your health. There are many tobacco cessation programs and nicotine change treatments. And make sure to have regular cancer screening examinations with your dentist. Early detection is indispensable for preventing mouth cancer.

Oral cancer on the rise in the US; Americans unaware of major risk factors

Source: Dental Tribune

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif., USA: New research conducted on behalf of the Oral Cancer Foundation has found that many Americans are unaware of the fact that the human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted virus, is the fastest-growing risk factor for oral cancer. The data supports the current consensus that awareness of oral cancer and early discovery measures is low, and that most Americans do not recognize that the profile of the oral cancer patient has evolved from heavy smokers and drinkers to anyone who is sexually active.

According to the OCF, approximately 40,000 Americans will be newly diagnosed with oral cancer in 2012. This is the fifth consecutive year in which there has been an increase in the incidence rate of the dangerous disease. Oral cancer is often caught in the late stages, when the five-year survival rate is less than 50 percent. When diagnosed in the early stages of development, oral cancer patients have an 80 to 90 percent survival rate.

The results of the national survey, conducted by market research consultancy Kelton among a representative sample of 1,024 Americans aged 18 and over, indicated that more than four in five Americans know that smoking (83 percent) and chewing tobacco (83 percent) are risk factors. However, the survey also revealed that they remain in the dark about other potential causes of oral cancer, including alcohol consumption and HPV, the most common sexually transmitted infection.

The survey showed that women tend to be slightly more aware of the risk factors of oral cancer than men. Forty percent of women and 33 percent of men correctly recognize alcohol consumption as a risk factor for oral cancer, but less than 30 percent of both sexes realize that a sexually transmitted virus is a causative factor for the disease.

“Oral cancer takes the life of one person an hour and for those who do survive, it can be severely disfiguring and debilitating,” said Brian Hill, founder and executive director of the OCF and a stage-four oral cancer survivor. “It’s one of the few types of cancer that hasn’t experienced a significant decline in fatalities over the past several decades. To reverse this trend, we need to create awareness that virtually everyone over the age of 18 is potentially at risk and hence in need of an opportunistic annual oral cancer screening.”

According to Hill, because people are not aware of the risk factors, they do not take a proactive approach to screening and early detection of oral cancer, which has a high survival rate if diagnosed early.

OCF is currently organizing an extensive effort to promote Oral Cancer Awareness Month in April and to encourage dental and medical practices throughout the U.S. and Canada to offer free oral cancer screenings during the month. Several companies and organizations are co-sponsoring OCF’s efforts, including LED Dental, manufacturer of the VELscope Vx oral cancer screening system. The OCF survey was funded in part by the company.

A summary of the recently released survey, “Americans’ appreciation for their mouth overshadowed by their lack of awareness of oral cancer”, is available at The survey document includes detailed information about specific risk factors, as well as a summary of the survey results. The breakout report, which includes the survey questions and detailed answers, is also available on the same webpage.

This news story was resourced by the Oral Cancer Foundation, and vetted for appropriateness and accuracy.

Swedish Match Announces Market Expansion for General Snus

Swedish Match today announced it has expanded into 7 additional US markets with its General brand Swedish snus. General is the number #1 selling snus in the world and the flagship brand for Swedish Match. Now General will be available in convenience stores and tobacco outlets in the metropolitan areas of New York, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Phoenix, Denver, Nashville and throughout the state of Ohio with its two new flavors in the product assortment, Nordic Mint and Classic Blend. Those flavors were launched in Chicago, Dallas and Philadelphia in mid-2011.

“These particular markets were chosen because they meet a number of important criteria to maximize the success of the General brand – from local smoking restrictions to the number of adult tobacco consumers and the potential opportunity for the snus category as a whole,” according to Clark Darrah, Vice President Next Generation Products.

General is authentic Swedish snus crafted from a sophisticated blend of premium tobaccos using a unique GothiaTek® production process ensuring the highest measure of quality. Snus is sold in pouches that are placed inconspicuously under the user’s upper lip, and is a form of smokefree and spit free tobacco that is popular among white-collar professionals throughout Scandinavia, where it first originated in the early 19th century. While the category is still young in the United States, snus has enjoyed tremendous growth of over 225% since its first introduction domestically in 2006 and is now about 6% of the smokeless tobacco category.

Darrah adds, “Adult tobacco consumers are increasingly looking for discrete, satisfying alternatives to traditional smokeless tobacco and cigarettes. Swedish snus and the General brand in particular has been the number one choice for discrete tobacco satisfaction among millions of Swedes for decades and now American consumers are finding it to be a superior choice to traditional American smokeless products.”

Promotional support for the market expansion will include extensive print and on-line advertisement as well as direct mail, sampling events and a word of mouth program—The General’s Club. More details on the General’s Club will be announced at a later date.
About General: General Snus, the worldwide leader, is a smokeless tobacco which has been enjoyed for more than 150 years. General Snus is fresh, discrete and the ultimate in pure tobacco satisfaction. Go to to learn more.

About Swedish Match: Swedish Match develops, manufactures and sells market-leading brands in the product areas of Snus and American Moist Snuff, Other Tobacco Products (US mass market cigars and chewing tobacco) and Lights. Some of our well known brands in the US include Red Man, Timber Wolf, Longhorn, General, Garcia y Vega and White Owl. For more information visit the website at .

SOURCE Swedish Match North America

This news story was resourced by the Oral Cancer Foundation, and vetted for appropriateness and accuracy.

April, 2012|Oral Cancer News|

Senate takes aim at tobacco in baseball

Author: Angie Wiatrowsk

As the Rangers and Cardinals play in the World Series, the U.S. Senate is pushing for something else. As if they have nothing better to do.

Four United States Senators, including Dick Durbin of Illinois, and health officials from St. Louis and Arlington, TX. made pleas in separate letters in hopes of banning chewing tobacco at baseball games and on camera. They want to stress not only the harmful effects on the players, but the image they’re sending to children who watch them.

St. Louis public health authority Pamela Walker said in her letter, “Younger people believe smokeless tobacco is a safer alternative to cigarettes, and when they see people they idolize do it that reinforces that belief. Not only that, it makes dipping look cool.”

Baseball players dipping is no news, it’s been affecting kids for years whether we tend to ignore it or not. Shoot, the term “bullpen” came to existence when Blackwell Tobacco Company released Bull Durham brand tobacco in 1860.

After all, who as a kid growing up playing ball didn’t have their share of Big League Chew? That’s right, before you hit the field, pull out that stringy wad of “groundball grape” and stick it in your cheek like the guys on TV.

It was an alternative to chewing tobacco that was very well marketed to kids. It was created by Portland Mavericks’ pitcher Rob Nelson and New York Yankees’ Jim Bouton. The two were sitting in the bullpen and were searching for a fun alternative to chewing tobacco that had taken over ballparks all across America in the 1970s.

Big League Chew was introduced in 1980 and the packaging and product itself was ironically similar to that of chewing tobacco. Coincidence? We think not. We also think this ban won’t do anything really. Tobacco was banned in the Minor Leagues in 1993 but it hasn’t stopped many people from taking up the habit. Players are still going to hide it, kids are going to do it if they want to.

And let’s not forget the catchy slogan, “You’re in the Big Leagues when you’re into Big League Chew.” It’s got to be better than, “You’re in the Big Leagues when you’ve got oral cancer.” That’s how it ended for Babe Ruth, who died of throat cancer at age 53.

October, 2011|Oral Cancer News|

Kids get graphic anti-tobacco message

Author: staff

Though it’s hard to understand Gruen Von Behrens’ speech, his message could not be clearer. The cancer survivor, who lost much of his neck, chin and tongue to the disease, is on a Northern Ontario high school tour to tell the story of how his chewing tobacco addiction impacted his life.

Von Behrens, who started chewing tobacco (also known as dipping) at the age of 13 and was diagnosed with cancer at 17, spoke to hundreds of students in the cafeteria at Thunder Bay’s Superior Collegiate and Vocational Institute on Wednesday morning. He said that many young people start smoking or chewing tobacco to look cool.

Addressing the crowd, he asked, “How cool will you look?
“I want everyone in here to take a good long look at my face,” he added, pointing to his disfigured features.
“I was very naive about what tobacco could do to me.”

The Thunder Bay District Health Unit sponsored Von Behrens’ speaking engagements in partnership with the Northwest Tobacco Control Area Network and Regional Cancer Care. Steve Tomé, youth engagement facilitator with the health unit, said that the use of chewing tobacco is 10 per cent higher in Northern Ontario than the rest of the province, so the unit wanted to send a message to students that dipping is no safer than smoking cigarettes.

“(Von Behrens) has got a great story that high school students can relate to,” Tomé said.

Von Behrens, now 34, has undergone 30 surgeries with at least one more to go. Cancer-free for 17 years now, he has been speaking to young Canadians and Americans for 11 years about his experience. The speaker, who is from Illinois, said that it’s obvious to him that his presentations influence people. After his talks, he said, students often come up to him and say that they’ll never use tobacco again.

When he spoke, he invited students to virtually befriend him on his personal Facebook page.

After presentations Tuesday at Nipigon Red Rock District High School and Thunder Bay’s St. Patrick High School , he said about 100 students added him as a friend on the social networking site, a sign that his story interests his audience.
Von Behrens also spoke at Churchill high school on Wednesday, and is to address students in Fort Frances, Kenora and Dryden in coming days.

Superior high school student Mathew Lesnick, who is involved with some school activities that the health unit is involved in, was asked by Tomé to introduce Von Behrens. Lesnick said that it looked like several students were affected by Von Behrens’ message, given the small crowd of students eager to speak to him after his speech.

Lesnick said that he had used tobacco products for about a year before quitting. He said he stopped because of the timing of a school trip and a family history of cancer. After Von Behrens’ presentation, Lesnick said if he was still using tobacco today, “that probably really would have made me quit.”

October, 2011|Oral Cancer News|

For the first time in nearly four decades, smokeless tobacco has no hand in sponsoring the College National Finals Rodeo

Source: Billings Gazette

CASPER, Wyo. — The once steadfast coupling of chewing tobacco and the collegiate cowboy extravaganza is no more. There are no Copenhagen banners, there are no Skoal flags. There are no free samples.

For the first time in nearly four decades, smokeless tobacco has no hand in sponsoring the College National Finals Rodeo.

“It’s a tremendous and tragic loss to college rodeo,” National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association Commissioner Roger Walters said during the weeklong 2011 CNFR, which ended Saturday night at the Casper Events Center. “Who lost? Our students.”

For 37 years, U.S. Smokeless Tobacco gave hundreds of thousands of dollars in the form of scholarships to college rodeo. While the presence of the company’s banners and flags at the CNFR ceased in 2009, the company — acquired by Altria that same year — continued giving scholarship money through last year.

Walters said the company, in a time of economic hardship, gave roughly $250,000 in scholarships each year to college rodeo performers. The sponsorship pullout by the company, he said, constituted an 80 to 85 percent loss in money available for the performers.

“I understand the reasons (for their departure), but in the long run, it hurts our students,” he said. “And that’s what this rodeo is for, first and foremost.”

Health officials, however, applauded the move.

“It is never a good idea to promote a product that is a deadly killer,” said Niki Mueller, the program director of Wyoming Through With Chew. “Rodeo is a family event, and the contestants are at an age that the industry likes to target. The younger the target, the longer they are a customer.”

Smokeless tobacco is sold as moist snuff and is most commonly chewed by the user. While it’s not as lethal as cigarette smoking, the levels of nicotine in smokeless tobacco can be more addictive.

In Wyoming, about 25 percent of high school boys and 7 percent of high school girls use some form of the product, Mueller said.

The loss of the smokeless tobacco company’s sponsorship has not affected the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association’s events, Walter said, because the company’s funding came in the form of scholarships.

“Financially, we’re as well off as we were three years ago,” he said. “It did not hurt college rodeo. It hurt our student-athletes.”

Walters, who has presided over the CNFR for three years, said roughly 3,500 students from colleges across the United States are members of the NIRA. To join, a student must have passed at least 24 hours of college courses with at least a 2.0 overall grade-point average.

There is also a $255 membership fee, $127 of which goes toward the student’s insurance.

The association has about 110 events annually, as well as the CNFR, which alone costs roughly $500,000 to put on. Those events are funded by sponsors, both nationally and locally.

“Without sponsorship money, college rodeo, the CNFR, would not be functional,” Walter said. “Sponsorship is what makes it happen.”

The commissioner stressed that the smokeless tobacco company’s scholarship recipients had the money given to their schools in their names. The only stipulation, he said, was that the recipient be at least 18 years old.

Jason Mincer, government relations director with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network in Wyoming, said that while the company may not have put any requirements in terms of its products on recipients, “case after case of rolls” of free smokeless tobacco were made available.

“In my mind, it is a pretty shady thing to do for a lot of reasons,” Mincer said.

Because college rodeo is a club sport not sanctioned by the NCAA, cowboys and cowgirls are free to compete professionally at the same time, and many do. Vernon College bareback and saddle bronc rider JR Vezain of Cowley, who competed in last week’s CNFR, currently ranks 12th in bareback riding in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.

College rodeo officials have added incentive to make up for the loss in scholarship funding, as some top contestants could elect to turn pro full time if the college level is no longer lucrative.

“That’s definitely a consideration,” Walters said. “It’s something we knew would be a possibility, but we’re trying to overcome that.”

Mincer said he understands the hit students have taken in the form of available scholarship money, but he doesn’t believe that a “$1,000 or $5,000 scholarship offsets the onset of mouth cancer.”

To date, Walters said he has made more than 30 presentations to potential sponsors in the hopes of replacing the loss of scholarships.

“Have I replaced it?” he said. “The answer is no.”

Mueller, whose agency works to change the social norms and acceptance of tobacco use in Wyoming, said she also understands Walters’ concern for the student-athletes.

“The loss of the sponsor is awful,” she said. “It really does put this rodeo and other rodeos that have been affected by Altria dropping their sponsorships in a difficult position. Hopefully, a healthy sponsor will step up.”

Mincer agreed.

“Obviously, I’d like to see those scholarships be replaced by a sponsor that would have a more positive impact on our students,” he said.

Walters said he doesn’t know when or if the rodeo will replace the scholarship possibilities lost when smokeless tobacco pulled out.

“When you lose $250,000 that is supposed to be for higher education,” he said, “it’s not easily replaced.”

This news story was resourced by the Oral Cancer Foundation, and vetted for appropriateness and accuracy.