smokeless tobacco

Rodeo Competitors Fight Smokeless Tobacco Use at Laramie Jubilee Days

Author: Nick Learned

Cody Kiser and Carly Twisselman

Two professional rodeo contestants will ride exclusively for the Oral Cancer Foundation this weekend as part of Laramie Jubilee Days with a goal of preventing young fans from using smokeless tobacco.

Cody Kiser and Carly Twisselman each aim to show rodeo fans, particularly the younger ones, chewing or using other forms of smokeless tobacco isn’t what makes them who they are. They promote the Foundation’s campaign which uses the slogan “Be Smart. Don’t Start.”

Their approach is anything but confrontational or aggressive. Rather than encouraging people to quit, they hope to encourage young fans to never pick up the habit in the first place. And where some rely on statistics to make the point, Kiser and Twisselman take a different approach. Simply giving attention to young rodeo fans is a big part of getting their message across.

“Its not the facts that they’re going to take home,” Kiser says. “Everybody knows that tobacco’s bad; you can get cancer and you can die. But the biggest impact that I see is just acknowledging those kids or acknowledging those people in the audience that want to know more, and you can show them what you can do without tobacco.”

“I’m not out there to tell anybody how to live their life or preach to them about needing to quit,” Kiser says.

“It’s not our place to do that,” Twisselman says. “People most of the time aren’t going to listen when you tell them something like that anyway.”

The pair will be wearing Oral Cancer Foundation gear and handing out buttons, wristbands and bandanas bearing campaign messaging.

As they travel the rodeo circuit, Kiser and Twisselman each say they often see other riders use various types of smokeless tobacco such as chew and snuff.

“It’s very common,” says Kiser. “You see it everywhere.”

“One of my traveling partners, he started when he was in high school. He was just around it all the time,” says Kiser. “It was just the ‘cowboy’ thing to do, I guess.”

“A lot of people are very respectful about it,” Twisselman says. “They’ll see me in my shirt and be like ‘oh yeah, you represent the Oral Cancer Foundation’ and they’ll spit their chew out. I think that in itself is a positive side effect of it.”

“I think a large part of a lot of these cowboys is, it’s the cowboy thing to do, so they start doing it,” Kiser says. “And that’s where I want to step in and show the younger generation that you don’t have to chew to be a cowboy. You can be a cowboy athlete and not chew and treat your body as best you can, because what we do is very difficult and it’s hard on the body.”

“A lot of folks started when they young,” Kiser says. “And I’ve talked to guys who started chewing later in life and they can’t quit, or it’s hard for them. It’s a vicious thing.”

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

Rodeo outreach program fights oral cancer

Author: Stewart M. Green


Carly Twisselman, a spokesperson with the Oral Cancer Foundation’s rodeo outreach program, and her horse Chanel travel the Western rodeo circuit and talk with kids about the dangers of using spit tobacco. Photo by Stewart M. Green

Carly Twisselman brushed her horse Chanel outside a stall at the Norris-Penrose Event Center, home of the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo, which will roll into town July 13-16. “I’ve been rodeoing my whole life,” she said. “Now I do it at the professional level. This is my rookie year so I’m going really hard. I want to win the rookie title.”

Summer is the busiest time of the year for cowgirls and cowboys. “We call it Cowboy Christmas, the 4th of July run,” she said. Twisselman and her travel partner have recently competed in Utah, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, and just drove up from Pecos, Texas, to Colorado Springs for qualifiers. “It’s a crazy time,” she said. “Lots of traveling, but lots of money to be won.”

Twisselman, a 30-year-old barrel racer, grew up on a ranch near San Luis Obispo on the central California coast. “My family’s been ranching there for seven generations,” she said. “I was on the back of a horse all the time. I was riding before I could walk.”

While growing up in the Western ranching and rodeo culture, Twisselman was aware of the widespread use of spit tobacco by cowboys. “I’ve been around it my whole life and seen a lot of things that were negative and I was affected by it.”

Rodeo and tobacco have a long history together. Starting in 1986, the U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company sponsored the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association until the association ended its partnership with tobacco advertisers in 2009. Tobacco use, however, still thrives with cowboys and spectators at rodeos.

In 2014, the Oral Cancer Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports prevention, education and research of oral cancer, reached out to pro rodeo athletes to spread the word about the dangers of tobacco use, with Cody Kiser, a bareback bronc rider, as their first rodeo spokesperson. This past year they added Carly Twisselman to continue creating awareness in the rodeo community.

“Honestly, it was God that they came to me,” said Twisselman. “Their goal was to reach rodeo people, people in the Western culture and people that were horse lovers because tobacco is a huge problem in rodeo.” The foundation asked Twisselman to be a spokesperson and she gladly accepted. “It’s an amazing thing to represent such a great organization. I can take this rodeo platform where I’m in front of thousands of people and use it for good.” While the Oral Cancer Foundation wants to help adults with tobacco problems, its rodeo focus is on children. According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 9.9 percent of high school-age boys use spit tobacco nationwide, while 10.5 percent of men ages 18-25 use it. Usage is higher in rural states like Wyoming, Montana and West Virginia. A can of spit tobacco packs as much nicotine as 40 cigarettes, and a 30-minute chew is like smoking three cigarettes, making addiction to spit tobacco one of the hardest to break. Spit tobacco, including smokeless tobacco, dip, snuff, chew and chewing tobacco, can cause gum disease, tooth decay and oral cancer. Almost 50,000 people will be diagnosed with oral cancer in 2016.

“We aren’t telling people they should stop,” Twisselman said, “but we show people why it’s not good to use tobacco. If someone is chewing, I’m not going to go lecture them.”

Twisselman and Kiser focus on helping kids make positive choices about tobacco use. “Kids look up to us as idols and if they see us doing good and not chewing tobacco then maybe they won’t either,” Twisselman said. “Our message is: ‘Be Smart, Don’t Start.’”

Twisselman also attends junior rodeos where she hands out wristbands, bandanas, pins, and buttons. “Kids love the freebies,” she said. She also wears Oral Cancer Foundation logos on her competition shirts.

Surprisingly, some rodeo women chew tobacco. “It’s not the problem it is with the men,” Twisselman said, “but I do see it. I find it really repulsive. Sometimes women who chew will see me and say, “Oh, you work with oral cancer” and they’ll take their chew out and throw it away because they don’t want to be disrespectful to me.”

Twisselman said she and Kiser are making a difference, noting people are becoming more educated about the dangers of throat cancer from chewing tobacco and learning that it’s not a healthy habit. “We’ve only been doing this for a year now and we’re still getting our feet wet,” she said. “It’s hard to know if fewer kids are chewing now but I’m getting the word out and interacting with them. Because we take the time to talk with kids and give them the little gifts, it has a huge impact on them.”

To learn more about oral cancer and its prevention, medical research, education and for patient support, then visit

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

Rodeo rider partners with nonprofit group to fight smokeless tobacco use

Author: Rebecca Cade

SALT LAKE CITY — Oral cancer is becoming an epidemic in the U.S., and has been in the news in the last year with the loss of major league baseball hall-of-famer, Tony Gwynn, who died at 54 from smokeless tobacco use.

Rodeo has a historic tie to smokeless tobaccos, and Oral Cancer Foundation, has teamed up with Bareback Rider Cody Kiser to draw awareness to, and prevent, this growing epidemic where it thrives – the rodeo circuit.

Smokeless/spit tobacco is one of the historic causes of deadly oral cancers, and is more addictive than other forms of tobacco use.

The nonprofit is seeking to spread awareness of oral cancer and the dangers of starting terrible tobacco habits. While others are focused on getting users to quit, The Oral Cancer Foundation is reaching out to young people to not pick up the habit that they may see one of their rodeo “heroes” engage in.

Their message is simple, “Be Smart. Don’t Start.”

With the strong addictive powers of smokeless tobacco, the foundation and Kiser aim to engage fans early.

At the rodeos, Kiser will be solely wearing OCF logos and wording, while handing out buttons, wristbands and bandanas with the campaign messaging on them. The bareback rider hopes this will make him an alternative positive role-model for the adolescent age group whose minds are so easily molded.

“It’s something I’ve always been passionate about, so when I got into the partnership with OCF, it was no big deal to be able to say ‘I don’t smoke or chew, never have, and it’s easy not to,'” Kiser said.

Kiser added it all starts with kids.

“Most of these guys I ride with started smoking and chewing in sixth or seventh grade,” he said. “So, if we can get to those kids now, and tell them ‘you don’t have to do this to be cool or be a cowboy’ and show them what you can do without it.”

More information on the campaign can be found at

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

FDA Spends $36 Million on Anti-Chewing Tobacco Ad Campaign

Author: Elizabeth Harrington
Cans of smokeless tobacco sit in the Tampa Bay Rays dugout before a baseball game between the Rays and the Baltimore Orioles, Wednesday, April 14, 2010, in Baltimore. After hounding Major League Baseball and its players union over steroids, Congress now wants the sport to ban smokeless tobacco. (AP Photo/Rob Carr)

Cans of smokeless tobacco sit in the Tampa Bay Rays dugout before a baseball game between the Rays and the Baltimore Orioles, Wednesday, April 14, 2010, in Baltimore. After hounding Major League Baseball and its players union over steroids, Congress now wants the sport to ban smokeless tobacco. (AP Photo/Rob Carr)

The Food and Drug Administration is spending $36 million on an anti-chewing tobacco advertising campaign targeted at white male teenagers in the midwest.

The federal agency announced Tuesday it is expanding its “Real Cost” anti-tobacco campaign to “educate rural, white male teenagers” and convince them to stop dipping.

“Smokeless tobacco use is culturally ingrained in many rural communities,” the FDA said. “For many, it has become a rite of passage, with these teenagers seeing smokeless tobacco used by role models, such as fathers, grandfathers, older brothers, and community leaders.”

The campaign will run television, radio, and print advertisements, as well as put up public signs and billboards and post on social media.

An FDA spokesperson told the Washington Free Beacon that the total cost for the campaign is $36 million, which will be financed through taxes on tobacco manufacturers. Paid ads will cost $20 million, and the remaining budget will cover “research, strategic planning, creative development, and contract management.”

The agency is also partnering with two dozen minor league baseball teams in the midwest that will host anti-chewing tobacco events and feature advertisements from the campaign.

“Amplification of messaging from the campaign will take place at 25 Minor League Baseball stadiums throughout this summer using a variety of efforts, including sponsoring in-stadium events, the placement of print ads, running of television ad spots, and opportunities for fans to engage with players who support the FDA’s efforts on smokeless tobacco,” said Tara Goodin, an FDA spokesperson.

The list of minor league clubs participating in the campaign includes the Albuquerque Isotopes, the Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks, the Traverse City Beach Bums in Michigan, the Sioux Falls Canaries, and the Burlington Bees, an Iowa farm team for the Los Angeles Angels.

Chewing tobacco has been banned at ballparks in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Boston, including Fenway Park, and major leaguers can face $250 fines and “are subject to discipline” from Major League Baseball’s Commissioner Rob Manfred if they dip during games.

ESPN reported that signs are now posted in Fenway with a phone number so individuals can call to report on other fans they see chewing tobacco to “alert security.”

The FDA provided an example of one of its new campaign ads, which features a man at a bowling alley with a can of chewing tobacco in his back pocket.


“This can can cause mouth cancer, tooth loss, brown teeth, jaw pain, white patches, gum disease,” text on the ad reads.

The campaign is targeted at white males aged 12 to 17 who are using smokeless tobacco, which the FDA estimates to be 629,000 nationwide, or 0.19 percent of the U.S. population of 318.9 million.

“Not only is the target audience using smokeless tobacco at a high rate, but many do not fully understand the negative health consequences of their actions,” said Mitch Zeller, J.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products. “In communities where smokeless tobacco use is part of the culture, reaching at-risk teens with compelling messaging is critical to help change their understanding of the risks and harms associated with smokeless tobacco use.”

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

April, 2016|Oral Cancer News|

Cowboy raises awareness for oral cancer

Author: Annie Sabo
KRISTV cody interview

In an environment where smokeless and spit tobacco is prevalent, cowboy, Cody Kiser, says he feels like the luckiest guy in the world to represent the Oral Cancer Foundation.

He told us, “I just happened to be in a class with a classmate. Their sister works for the oral cancer foundation…one thing led to another and they said  we’ve been looking for a cowboy that doesn’t smoke or chew and we’d love to be able to work out some kind of deal where we help you out you help us out…now I’m here.”
Although Cody has not been personally affected by the cancer, he wears a special patch on his shirt to raise awareness for the deadly disease.

He said, “I’m very lucky that I haven’t had any family members or friends be affected by oral cancer. I’ve made friends with people that have been now and it’s a real eye opener.”

Since partnering with the oral cancer foundation, he works hard to promote this message: “Be smart don’t start…we want to get out to the kids and fans who haven’t smoking or chewing yet.”

Cody says the best part about working for the oral cancer foundation is serving as a role model for children. He told us, “You can be an elite athlete and an amazing cowboy without having to smoke or chew. That’s our goal is to get to those kids before they do that. I just want to be a good role model for these kids.”

Rodeo after Rodeo, Kiser hopes to make a difference.

10334178_GKiser wears this patch every time he competes.


View Cody Kiser’s full inter view here:

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

Blue Jays welcome City of Toronto’s proposed ban on chewing tobacco

Author: Robert Macleod and Jeff Gray

For years, it was a right of passage at the Toronto Blue Jays’ spring training camp here. Manager John Gibbons would earnestly proclaim that he was finally giving up smokeless tobacco, a personal ban that would usually only last a couple of weeks before he would be seen “dipping” once again.

It is a terrible habit, Gibbons will tell you, and that’s the reason he said he would support a City of Toronto proposal to prohibit the use of chewing tobacco at all public parks, baseball fields and hockey rinks. The prohibition would also apply at Rogers Centre, where many of the players openly use chewing tobacco.

“Tobacco’s a nasty habit,” Gibbons said. “I did it for a long, long time. I’m not proud of that. And whatever they can do to get rid of it, especially kids from doing any of that, I’m all for it.”

Toronto’s proposal to ban chewing tobacco is being spearheaded by Councillor Joe Mihevc, who is chairman of the city’s board of health. Mihevc says he intends to introduce a motion at the board’s March 21 meeting asking that officials study a potential ban that’s being supported by the Canadian Cancer Society and various anti-tobacco groups.

“Professional athletes are role models for young people,” he said, “and we need to make sure they are not promoting bad habits or tobacco use as a part of sports culture.”

Mihevc cited statistics that show a rising number of students across Ontario in Grades 7 to 12 are using smokeless tobacco, with one survey estimating that it is being used by 6 per cent of students in this age group. That number is up from 4.6 per cent in 2011. It means an estimated 58,200 students could be using it across the province, although the survey suggests use in Toronto is much lower, at 3 per cent.

Cancer researchers and health experts say chewing tobacco causes oral, pancreatic and esophageal cancer, as well as lesions in the mouth and tooth decay.

Mihevc announced his intentions at a news conference at Toronto’s City Hall on Monday attended by anti-tobacco campaigners and representatives from the Canadian Cancer Society. Also in attendance was Stephen Brooks, senior vice-president of business operations with the Blue Jays. Mihevc praised the Blue Jays and Major League Baseball for their support. Brooks said the club’s management backs the idea of a ban, something that city officials in New York, Boston, San Francisco and Los Angeles have already done.

He said MLB cannot bring in a league-wide ban unless it negotiates one into the players’ collective agreement. However, players and coaches are expected to abide by local bylaws wherever they happen to be playing. Brooks acknowledged there could some resistance from players, but declined to say which Blue Jays players use chewing tobacco.

“While certainly, I’m sure there will be pushback from players, this is very much in the spirit of what Major League Baseball has been advocating,” Brooks said.

Mihevc said he doubted bylaw officers would actually be deployed into the Blue Jays’ and visitors’ dugouts to make sure players were adhering to the law should it be enacted. He said the bylaw would be enforced as most bylaws are actually enforced – through conversations between citizens and social pressure.

Michael Perley, director of the Ontario Campaign for Action on Tobacco, said it is not just baseball where chewing tobacco has a long history; the habit is also common among amateur hockey players. This is despite bans, he said, by the National Hockey League, the Greater Toronto Hockey League and Baseball Ontario. Bylaws would strengthen league policies, he said.

For Gibbons, it took a lot to finally give up chewing tobacco, but he is happy he did. He is closing in on the second anniversary of going tobacco-free. He said the death in June, 2014, of former MLB great Tony Gwynn prompted him to get serious about quitting.

Gwynn was only 54 when he died after battling parotid (mouth) cancer, an illness he always maintained was caused by a chewing tobacco habit he picked up during his playing career.

March, 2016|Oral Cancer News|

Athletes drive increase in high schoolers’ use of smokless tobacco, CDC study shows

Author: web staff


High-school athletes are using more smokeless tobacco, even though overall tobacco use among high-school students has declined, according to a study published by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

We can do more to protect America’s youth from a lifetime of addiction,” Tom Frieden, CDC director, said in a press release. “The fact is, smokeless tobacco products, such as chewing tobacco, snuff or dip, can cause cancer of the mouth, esophagus and pancreas. And the nicotine in these products is harmful to the developing brain. Because we know tobacco-free policies in schools and other public recreational areas work, we must take action now so that our children are safe from these toxins.”

Student responses to the national Youth Risk Behavior Survey from 2001 through 2013 show that the share reporting any tobacco use dropped to 22.4 percent from 33.9 percent, and the rate of those smoking combustible tobacco products dropped to 19.5 percent from 31.5 percent. However, those who reported using smokeless tobacco products increased to 8.8 percent from 8.2 percent.

The increased use of smokeless tobacco was driven by athletes. The rate among non-athletes remained unchanged at 5.9 percent but has “increased significantly” to 11.1 percent from 10 percent in youth athletes.

Researchers suggest that athletes are aware of the adverse consequences of smoking on athletic performance, but may view smokeless tobacco as “less harmful, socially acceptable, or even a way to enhance athletic performance.”

The 2013 YRBS found that 26.3 percent of Kentucky’s high school youth reported any use of tobacco; 17.9 percent were smoking cigarettes, and 13.2 percent reported using smokeless tobacco.

“Tobacco use among youth athletes is of particular concern because most adult tobacco users first try tobacco before age 18,” Brian King, deputy director for research translation in the CDC Office on Smoking and Health, said in a press release. “The younger people are when they start using tobacco, the more likely they are to become addicted and the more heavily addicted they can become.”

The reports calls for increased education about the dangers of smokeless tobacco; recognition that the tobacco industry pushes smokeless tobacco as an alternative to smoking where it is prohibited; that the role of professional athletes, many who use smokeless tobacco, must be part of the discussion because they are often considered role models by youth; and that “implementing and enforcing tobacco-free policies that prohibit all tobacco use on school campuses and at all public recreational facilities, including stadiums, parks, and school gymnasiums, by players, coaches, referees, and fans might help reduce tobacco use among student athletes.”

As of September, Kentucky had 47 school districts with comprehensive tobacco free policies. These policies cover 45 percent of Kentucky’s students and represents 27 percent of the school districts in the state, according to the Kentucky 100% Tobacco Free Schools website.

“Creating 100 percent tobacco-free environments is one of the best ways we can set our kids up for a healthy future,” U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy said in the release. “It helps them see that being tobacco-free is the way to better health and a longer life.”


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

October, 2015|Oral Cancer News|

California to big-league ballplayers: Stop chewing tobacco

Author: John Rogers

California lawmakers have taken the first step toward accomplishing something Major League Baseball could never do: Stop players from stuffing those big wads of chewing tobacco into their mouths during games. With Gov. Jerry Brown signing a bill earlier this week banning the use of smokeless tobacco in all California ballparks, a practice dating to the days of Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb now seems headed toward the sport’s endangered species list.

Although California is only one state, it is home to five of Major League Baseball’s 30 teams, and team owners themselves have been pressing for a ban for years. Last May they got one in San Francisco, home of the reigning World Series champion Giants. In August they got another in Boston, site of fabled Fenway Park, and when Brown signed Assembly Bill 768 on Sunday one was already in the works for Los Angeles.

“Major League Baseball has long supported a ban of smokeless tobacco at the Major League level and the Los Angeles Dodgers fully support the Los Angeles City Tobacco ordinance and Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids,” the Dodgers said in a statement last month.

Major League Baseball still needs buy-in from the players, however, because the statewide ban that takes effect before next season has no provision for enforcement.

“The question we’ve been asked is are we going to have police officers walking around checking lips, and no, that’s not the case,” said Opio Dupree, chief of staff to Assemblyman Tony Thurmond, D-Richmond, who introduced the bill. “It’s going to be left to the team and the league.”

Interviews with players in recent years indicate that many are ready to quit — if they could.

“I grew up with it,” pitcher Jake Peavy told the Boston Globe last year when the newspaper polled 58 players the Boston Red Sox had invited to spring training and found 21 were users.

“It was big with my family,” said Peavy who is now with the San Francisco Giants. “Next thing you know, you’re buying cans and you’re addicted to nicotine.”

He added he would like to quit to set a better example for his sons.

Last year’s World Series MVP, San Francisco Giant’s pitching ace Madison Bumgarner, also chews tobacco but told The Associated Press earlier this year he planned to quit after San Francisco became the first city in the nation to adopt a ban. That one, like the statewide provision, also takes effect next year.

“I’ll be all right. I can quit,” Bumgarner said in August. “I quit every once in a while for a little while to make sure I can do it.”

All the players should, said Christian Zwicky, a former Southern California Babe Ruth League most valuable player who grew up watching the Los Angeles Dodgers play and says he never cared for seeing all that tobacco chewing and the spitting of tobacco juice that follows.

It didn’t influence him to take up the practice, the 22-year-old college student says, but he can see how it might have affected others.

“I understand the sentiment there,” said Zwicky who adds he’s not a big fan of government regulation but supports this law. “You don’t want these people that kids look up to using these products that could influence children in a negative way.”

Moves to adopt a comprehensive ban have been gaining support in recent years, fueled by such things as last year’s death of popular Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn of the San Diego Padres, who blamed his fatal mouth cancer on years of chewing tobacco. Former pitcher Curt Schilling, a cancer survivor, has also taken up the cause.

Use of smokeless tobacco has been banned in the minor leagues for more than 20 years, but Major League Baseball and its players union haven’t been able to reach agreement on a similar restriction. Players and coaches are prohibited from chewing tobacco during television interviews and can’t been seen carrying tobacco products when fans are in the ballparks. But the chewing during the game continues.

“It’s a tough deal for some of these players who have grown up playing with it and there are so many triggers in the game,” San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy told the AP earlier this year.

“I certainly don’t endorse it,” said Bochy, an on-and-off-again user for decades. “With my two sons, the one thing I asked them is don’t ever start dipping.”

October, 2015|Oral Cancer News|

Cowboy with a statement on smoking

Author: Adam Robertson
55f20e17c6255.imageA cowboy stands against smoking
Above: Cody Kiser holds on as his bronco goes wild during the Sanders County Fair rodeo; Kiser has teamed up with the Oral Cancer Foundation to raise awareness of the dangers of tobacco products through the rodeo.


PLAINS – Tobacco use has been a big part of the rodeo for years; one participant of the Sanders County Fair is in the forefront of changing this, though, by promoting a tobacco-less lifestyle through the sport.

Cody Kiser, a cowboy who rode bareback broncos at the Fair, has teamed up with the Oral Cancer Foundation’s ‘Be Smart, Don’t Start’ campaign to help teach kids about the dangers of tobacco products and oral cancer. According to their website, the campaign is part of the foundation’s rodeo outreach and attempting to “become engaged where the problem lives.”

“While other [groups] are focused on getting users to quit, the Oral Cancer Foundation is reaching out to young people to not pick up the habit that they may see one of their rodeo heroes engaging in,” stated information provided by the OFC.

To help with this, Kiser and the foundation have been working to present role models within the rodeo world who do not use tobacco products and actively advocate against their use.

“How do you change that?” Kiser asked, regarding the tobacco-use culture. “I think that is in kids; you have to get to the kids and get their opinions changed.”

The foundation’s main focus has been on reaching out to middle school and high school students, though getting their message to any kid is helpful. They try to inform the kids of the dangers of tobacco products, with a particular emphasis on chewing tobacco, which is heavily linked to developing oral cancer.

“We’re not here to tell anybody how to live their life or anything, if they’re already chewing or smoking,” said Kiser. “Just give information … and hope we reach out to the kids. That’s the main thing.”

During the Sanders County Fair rodeo, Kiser only wore sponsorship logos for the OCF. He also took time to talk to kids at the fair and give out pins, bandanas as well as other items with the foundation’s message on them.

It was noted there are other rodeo riders who do not smoke or chew tobacco, though it is rare. This has been turning around in recent years, though, and there are organizations promoting tobacco-free rodeos, where only people who do not use tobacco products participate. Other organizations, like Project Filter and reACT, are also working to educate kids about tobacco use through the rodeo.

“There are groups who are doing this now,” Kiser said. “It’s not just us … There is some move towards it. It’s in its infancy right now, but there people who are doing stuff.”

He also recalled a number of athletes had used tobacco products and reported regretting it later in life; some hall of famers have said they would do things differently, in regards to tobacco use, if they could go back. The main goal of the OCF and its ‘Be Smart, Don’t Start’ campaign has been to help kids avoid having those regrets.

The foundation hopes to set up public speaking arrangements at schools for Kiser and their other ambassadors in the near future, though for now their outreach is limited to rodeos. Going directly to the schools would help them reach out to kids more and spread their message further.

Tobacco use is strongly linked to oral cancer, which has several severe impacts on the body; everything from losing teeth to serious oral sores or even death. The effects do not stop at a personal level either and can spill over to other people’s lives as well.

According to the OFC, approximately 46,000 people are diagnosed with oral cancer each year. This translates to almost 115-120 people diagnosed each day.

More information on the Oral Cancer Foundation can be found at

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

Raising awareness at the rodeo

Author: Nicole Klauss


A rodeo barrel racer from California is helping spread the word in Ellensburg that people shouldn’t start using tobacco.

Carly Twisselman competed at the Ellensburg Rodeo slack Thursday night. She also helped share the message of the Oral Cancer Foundation, which is “Be smart. Don’t start.”

While attending and competing at rodeo events, Twisselman reaches out to youth to encourage them not to pick up the habit they may see their rodeo heroes have.

“The rodeo is known for having a lot of chewing tobacco. … The rodeo is such a small community and the heroes in it, the children look up to,” Twisselman said. “When they see their hero, growing up they think ‘I want to be like them.’”


The Oral Cancer Foundation teamed up with Twisselman and bareback bronc rider Cody Kiser to spread the word in the rodeo circuit. The goal of the campaign is to spread awareness of oral cancer and the dangers of starting tobacco use. Twisselman often spends time talking to children and hands out buttons and bandannas to spread the message.

Smokeless/spit tobacco is one of the historic causes of deadly oral cancers, and is more addictive than other forms of tobacco use, according to a news release from the Oral Cancer Foundation.

According to the Oral Cancer Foundation’s website (www.oralcancer, mouth cancers are newly diagnosed in about 115 people each day in the U.S., and worldwide new mouth cancer cases exceed 450,000 annually. When found at early stages of development, people with oral cancers have an 80 to 90 percent survival rate.

Twisselman has never used tobacco, though some in her family have. Her two brothers both used chewing tobacco, but quit on their own before Twisselman got involved with the Oral Cancer Foundation campaign.


Twisselman grew up on a cattle ranch in central California and comes from seven generations of ranching.

“I’ve been riding horses and competing in rodeos since I could walk,” she said. “I won the youngest rider award from my fair when I was 2. It’s pretty much been in my blood and my lifestyle forever, and it’s something I’ve always been passionate about.”

She went to school in Los Angeles, Calif., to study communications and pursue an acting career. Today she is the host of a show on the Ride TV channel. She balances that with rodeo activities.

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