Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Jefferson County Youth are Through with Chew

 This year’s Great American Spit Out (GASpO) was on February 21, 2013. The GASpO is a one-day challenge that encourages smokeless tobacco users to skip the dip and go just one day without tobacco. Inspiring students to quit is made a little easier when facts about spit tobacco use are shared.  A 2008 study from the WHO International Agency for Research on Cancer concluded that smokeless tobacco users have an 80 percent higher risk of developing oral cancer and a 60 percent higher risk of developing pancreatic and esophageal cancer.  Another fact, included in the The S.T.O.P. Guide (The Smokeless Tobacco Outreach and Prevention Guide) states that “Leukoplakia, which can lead to oral cancer, occurs in more than half of all users in the first three years of use, with more than 60 percent of spit tobacco users experiencing these oral lesions.”1

 The Lakewood High School’s Breathe Easy (BE) Team – a group of students working to reduce tobacco's toll through education, outreach, and advocacy – helped organize a quit challenge for the GASpO. Twelve students signed up for the quit challenge and received a quit kit and support throughout the day. Many of the students had a hard time, but stuck with it. One student told Nicole Swaggerty, Youth Engagement Specialist for the Tobacco Prevention Initiative at Jefferson County Public Health, he was offered dip 5 times by his peers during the day, but he declined their offers. Another student who pledged to quit for the day said it was hard but the sunflower seeds, toothpicks, and text messages encouraging him to stay tobacco-free were really helpful. Throughout the day at Lakewood HS, students came by the GASpO table and received education about the dangers of smokeless tobacco. For more information on tobacco prevention please contact Donna Viverette at 303-275-7555 or visit the Jefferson County Public Health website.

1. The S.T.O.P. Guide (The Smokeless Tobacco Outreach and Prevention Guide): A Comprehensive Directory of Smokeless Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Resources. Applied Behavioral Science Press, 1997; Hatsukami, D & Severson, H, “Oral Spit Tobacco: Addiction, Prevention and Treatment,” Nicotine & Tobacco Research 1:21-44, 1999.]

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