Through with Chew Week
Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) will declare February 17-23 Through with Chew Week, following the lead of other states in the nation concerned with the oral health of their residents, especially youth.
Through with Chew Week started in the state of Wyoming to draw attention to the health issues related to smokeless tobacco. Among the health effects caused by smokeless tobacco, cancer and poor oral health are the most common. After increasing for many years, the use of smokeless tobacco by New Hampshire youth has leveled off, according to the latest data from the NH Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (2011 YRBS). The percentage of female smokeless tobacco users (2.2%) is significantly lower than the male students (14.2%) (2011 YRBS).
The use of smokeless tobacco is at 3% for New Hampshire adults, and 45% of adult smokeless tobacco users also smoke cigarettes (2011 NH Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, BRFSS). Nationally, declines in the use of smokeless tobacco by youth and young adults have stalled after years of steady progress. New Hampshire has the opportunity to do more to educate students about the harmful effects of smokeless tobacco and maintain the gains currently being made in the oral health of the young.
“The use of smokeless tobacco is not a safe substitute for smoking cigarettes,” said Dr. José Montero, Director of Public Health at DHHS. “Smokeless tobacco can cause cancer and lead to nicotine addiction and dependence. Scientific evidence clearly demonstrates the need for intense and sustained efforts to prevent our young people from using tobacco.”
Smokeless tobacco is tobacco that is not burned. Other recent products on the market are snus, orbs, sticks, and dissolvables. Smokeless tobacco is associated with oral cancer, esophageal cancer, and pancreatic cancer. Using smokeless tobacco may also cause heart disease, gum disease, and oral lesions other than cancer, such as leukoplakia (precancerous white patches in the mouth). The price of treating disease and disfigurement is costly and many of these diseases result in deformation or death. But they can be prevented.
"Effects from prolonged use of chewing tobacco are often visible on the gum tissue where the user holds the wad of tobacco,” said Montero. “Gum recession and pre-cancerous oral lesions may be the first sign of a problem identified during a visit to the dentist. However, quitting is achievable, especially when combined with counseling and nicotine replacement therapies. Of course the best thing for youth is to never start.”
To hold your own Through with Chew Week or the Great American Spit Out, visit www.ThroughWithChew.com. For information or free support in quitting, call the NH Tobacco Helpline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or visit www.TryToStopNH.org and www.MyLastDip.org. Visit www.dhhs.nh.gov for more information on the NH Oral Health Program.