Health Educators Raise Awareness for Smokeless Tobacco Use

Educators teach about the harsh side effects of chewing tobacco during the "Great American Spit Out"

FARGO, N.D. — Some people view smokeless tobacco as a safer option to smoking.

However, due to its effect on the mouth, doctors say chewing tobacco is a deadly alternative.

“Gingival types of cancer are from a lot of the juices, and that’s one of the biggest thing we see is a lot of the mouth cancers, and that is a big problem,” said Sharri Lacher, a Clinical Nurse Specialist at the Roger Maris Cancer Center at Sanford Health.

In North Dakota, the use of smokeless tobacco is among the highest in the nation.

According to the 2017 North Dakota Youth Risk Behavior Survey, eight percent of high school students regularly use chewing tobacco.

To put that in perspective, only five percent of students nationwide dip on a daily basis.

Tobacco prevention educators warn that just because it’s smokeless tobacco, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s harmless tobacco.

“Tobacco, no matter what if it’s smoking it by a cigarette versus using it as a smokeless tobacco, it is still a carcinogen no matter how you use it,” said Lacher.

To counter the high number of users in North Dakota, Fargo Cass Public Health has declared this week “Through with Chew Week.”

Today is designated as the “Great American Spit Out” to bring awareness to the risks of using smokeless tobacco.

“This gives us the opportunity to show people that tobacco is deadly and is the number one cause of preventable deaths in the United States and in North Dakota,” said Preston Nesemeier, a Community Health Educator at Fargo Cass Public Health.

Of the students who say they use chewing tobacco in North Dakota, sixty one percent say that they dip every day.

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