“Spit” tobacco is just as addictive as cigarettes and has many harmful side effects. For these reasons, the Alabama Department of Public Health encourages smokeless tobacco users to quit the “spit” during “Through With Chew Week,” February 18-24.
The educational campaign to decrease spit tobacco use and increase awareness of the negative health effects of using these products is an annual event that began in 1989 by the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery.
The 2016 Alabama Adult Tobacco Survey revealed that 8.1 percent of the adult Alabamians surveyed had used smokeless tobacco in the past 30 days. The same survey revealed that a slightly higher 9.3 percent of surveyed Alabama teens had also used smokeless tobacco in the past 30 days. White male high school students had the highest current rate of smokeless tobacco use at 21.3 percent. Middle school students’ rate of smokeless tobacco use declined from 6.7 percent in 2014 to 4.0 percent in 2016.
At least 28 cancer-causing chemicals have been found in smokeless tobacco, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Smokeless tobacco use can cause oral, esophageal and pancreatic cancers, and lead to tooth loss and gum recession, said Julie Hare, Alabama Tobacco Quitline director.
Those who want to be “Through With Chew” can call the Quitline (1-800-Quit-Now) for help in quitting. Quitline coaching services are available seven days a week from 6 a.m. to midnight. Services are also offered online at quitnowalabama.com.
The Quitline provides free, individualized coaching to help smokers and smokeless tobacco users quit. In addition, the Quitline offers up to eight weeks of free nicotine patches to those who are medically eligible and enrolled in the coaching program.
For free help to be “Through With Chew,” call the Quitline at 800-784-8669, or visit quitnowalabama.com.