Health professionals to wage war on smokeless tobacco
Starting on Sunday, Castle Country dentists and ear, nose and throat specialists will be partnering with the Southeastern Utah District Health Department to bring attention to the death and disease caused by smokeless tobacco.
"Through with Chew Week," will take place from Feb. 16 through Feb. 22, demonstrating just how damaging smokeless tobacco can be to individuals of all ages.
"What most people don't realize is that a can of chew contains three times the amount of nicotine that a pack of cigarettes does," said SEUDHD Health Educator Debbie Marvidikis. "For that reason, smokeless tobacco is much more addicting than cigarettes and our young people don't know that."
In 2011, 7.3 percent of high school students in the United States used smokeless tobacco, according to the SEUDHD. The state of Utah is the third highest in the nation for smokeless tobacco consumption with many women beginning to use the product.
The department is running media spots about the dangers of smokeless tobacco as well as hosting educational classes at the SEUDHD offices located at 28 South, 100 East in Price.
"Quit Kits," which are used to start a tobacco user on the road to recovery will handed out by USU Eastern Students on Feb. 19, targeting the community's young people. The district's health kits include a stress ball, chewing gum, suckers, toothpaste and Jake's Chew for those addicted to smokeless tobacco. Jake's is a product which simulates the feel and taste of chew but is tobacco and nicotine free.
"The oral fixation associated with tobacco use is a very strong part of the addiction," said Marvidikis. "We have found that these type of substitutes really help."
The cessations items will also be distributed by partner businesses including Blane Jackson, DDS; Paul Feller, DDS; Paul Martinez, DDS; Kent Mckell, DDS; and Erik Lyman MD.
The health department and medical personnel will be addressing Castle Country youth about health risks commonly associated with chew.
"Smokeless tobacco is not a safe alternative to cigarettes, as some young people believe, and it is even more habit forming than cigarettes," said Marvidikis.
Chew can cause oral cancer, especially in the cheeks, gums and throat. Other mouth problems caused by smokeless tobacco include open sores, gum recession, tooth decay, bad breath and permanent discoloration of the teeth.
"Through with Chew Week," is sponsored by the SEUDHD and USU Eastern. Those seeking immediate assistance with tobacco addiction can call 800-Quit Now (784-8669) or go online to www.utah.quitnet.com. The Southeastern Utah District Health Department and Marvidikis can be reached at 637-3671.