“Through With Chew 2012” is designed to raise awareness about the variety of new smokeless tobacco products (SLT), dangerous especially to young people, not only because the amount of nicotine absorbed from these products is substantially higher than the amount absorbed from a cigarette, but also because of the aggressive marketing of these new products by the tobacco companies. Some of the latest tobacco industry innovations include tobacco dispensed in oral pouches, dissolvable tobacco (orbs) and the electronic cigarette.
Aggressive marketing includes the fact that the five largest tobacco manufacturers spent $547.9 million on SLT advertising and promotions in 2008, up from the previous year by 34 percent (www.cdc.gov). A goal of the education campaign this year is to educate parents, teachers, administrators and coaches about these new products, that the packaging often resembles candy packaging, and that they are actually tobacco-containing products.
Tobacco industry documents themselves indicate that SLT products are aggressively marketed toward youth, and that the industry has a strategy to progressively move youth from candy or fruit flavored products to more robust varieties for the nicotine dependent user (www.tobaccofreekids.org).
Because so many people die per year due to tobacco-related illness, the tobacco companies need to find replacement users for their products. Tobacco use, no matter what form, remains the leading cause of death in this country annually. Just as in cigarettes, the leading cancer-causing agents in SLT are the tobacco-specific nitrosamines, which are formed during the growing, curing, fermenting and aging of tobacco leaves.
They increase the risk of developing cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus and pancreas (www.cancer.org). This statewide, educational campaign is sponsored by the Montana Tobacco Use Prevention Program (MTUPP) and the local Lake County Health Department’s Tobacco Prevention Program here in Polson.
Smokeless tobacco is also strongly associated with leukoplakia — a precancerous lesion of the soft tissue of the mouth that consists of a white patch or plaque that cannot be scraped off. Smokeless tobacco use can cause recession of the gums, gum disease and tooth decay, and this is largely due to the fact that it contains high amounts of sugar, used as a preservative. If you are a diabetic and a tobacco user, you greatly increase the risk of circulatory problems compounded by the effects of nicotine – constriction of blood vessels and faster heart rate.
Tobacco addiction doesn’t have to be dealt with alone, however. By calling the Montana Tobacco Quit Line at 1-800-QUIT-NOW, you can find out how counselors, nicotine replacement therapy and discounted medications can help you take control of your life. While we’ve known for 50 years that tobacco is killing us – millions of people have quit using, and there are now more ex-users in America than there are tobacco addicts.
“Through With Chew and All that’s New,” Feb. 20-24, is designed to raise awareness about spit tobacco and the variety of other dangerous nicotine-containing products on the market. And, it is not just cancer that these products cause; it is also the damage to your heart and blood vessels that impairs circulation that makes you vulnerable to all manner of dangerous and debilitating ailments.
Be aware of industry targeting, especially to youth, and the destructive power of nicotine addiction that has been harnessed for enormous corporate profits over the past four to five decades.
This news story was resourced by the Oral Cancer Foundation, and vetted for appropriateness and accuracy.