Story last updated at 2/13/2013 - 2:48 pm
SITKA - It's time to quit putting cancer in your mouth. Join millions of Americans as they raise awareness on the dangers of smokeless tobacco during "Through with Chew Week" this February 17-23. Tobacco users are encouraged to quit with the support of their peers on Feb. 21, the official day to "quit." The SouthEast Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) is proud to support this annual national event, and encourages people to take charge of their health by making better choices.
Tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in Alaska and the U.S. In Alaska, 5 percent of adults and 8 percent of high school youth use smokeless tobacco. Alaska Native adults use smokeless tobacco at higher rates, with usage rates averaging 15 percent for men and 9 percent for women.
Jenny Olendorff, Alaska Tobacco Control Alliance Smokeless Tobacco Workgroup Chair said, "The use of smokeless tobacco, including chewing tobacco, continues to be a problem in Alaska. Many people believe that smokeless tobacco is less harmful than cigarettes, which is just what the tobacco companies would like us to believe. The truth is, smokeless tobacco is not a safe alternative to cigarettes, and has serious health effects, including cancer, gum disease, and heart disease."
At least 28 chemicals in smokeless tobacco have been found to cause cancer including oral, esophageal 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).
While quitting tobacco is hard, you don't have to do it alone. There are free resources available to help. If you are interested in quitting tobacco, call the SEARHC Tobacco Quit Program toll free at 1-888-966-8875. They offer free one on one quit support, educational services, and nicotine replacement therapy. Or you can call Alaska's Tobacco Quit Line at 1-800-QUIT-NOW to begin your quit journey today! Also visit www.alaskaquitline.com or www.facebook.com/alaskaquitline for more information.
For more information on "Through with Chew Week" and the "Great American Spit Out" you can go to throughwithchew.com.