To the editor:
Most people are aware of the health risks associated with smoking, but smokeless tobacco is often viewed as less of a health risk. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
According to information published by the National Institutes of Health, holding an average-sized dip in your mouth for 30 minutes gives you as much nicotine as smoking 3 cigarettes. And a two-can-a-week dipper gets as much nicotine as a pack and a half a day smoker does.
Feb. 19 through 25 is Through With Chew Week and Feb. 23 is the Great American Spit Out. These events were created to raise awareness about the importance of quitting smokeless tobacco. Whether you want to quit completely or just try it for 24 hours, this is the perfect time for you to break away from smokeless tobacco.
One of the most common diseases caused by smokeless tobacco is mouth or oral cancer. Other harms from smokeless tobacco are tooth decay and exposed tooth roots from the sugars in the products, receding gums (even when you quit, they don’t grow back), and leathery white patches in the mouth that can turn into cancer.
Smokeless tobacco may also cause pancreatic cancer and play a role in the development of heart disease and stroke. In other words, smokeless tobacco should be considered a deadly, dangerous product.
According to the 2010 Healthy Kids Colorado survey, Northwest Colorado youth tend to use smokeless tobacco much more frequently than smoking cigarettes and this is cause for concern.
All tobacco products should be regarded as dangerous and deadly and should be avoided at all costs. Raising awareness and offering the facts can help prevent youth from starting tobacco and current users may be more likely to quit.
For more information, contact Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association Community Health Educator Vicki Barron at 875-1883 or check out our tobacco resources on the N-CTRL Facebook page, www.facebook.com/supportnctrl.
Community health educator, Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association
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