The Great American Spit Out occurs today. Yes, CADCA is encouraging our coalitions to give your community members permission to spit. Permanently.

The Great American Spit Out is part of Through With Chew Week, an annual observation which ends on Saturday.

Dentists, otolaryngologists—physicians concerned with the ears, nose, and throat—and CADCA have proclaimed the week of February 14–20, 2016, as “Through With Chew Week” in an effort to call attention to the use of smokeless tobacco.

This is a problem all over the country, but especially concentrated in the South. That is why CADCA and its Geographic Health Equity Alliance has teamed up to address health inequities. According to Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids (CTFK), in 2015 23.1 percent of male high school students in Alabama used smokeless or spit tobacco products whereas their national counterparts consumed 14.7 percent of the same products. The percentage of male high school students who consumed smokeless tobacco or spit tobacco products in Georgia, Louisiana and Tennessee was 15.7 percent, 18.5 percent and 20.9 percent, respectively.

The public awareness campaign is designed to reduce the use of smokeless tobacco among young people.

Smokeless tobacco goes by many names, such as chewing tobacco, oral tobacco, spitting tobacco, dip, chew, and snuff, but the two basic types of smokeless tobacco are:

  • Chewing tobacco: Long strands of loose leaves, plugs, or twists of tobacco.
  • Snuff: Finely ground tobacco packaged in cans or pouches. It’s sold as dry or moist.

Some of the side effects include:

  • Gum disease that can lead to tooth loss
  • Tissue and bone loss around the roots of the teeth
  • Scratching and wearing down of teeth
  • Stained and discolored teeth
  • Bad breath

Smokeless tobacco products are often marketed as a healthier alternative to smoking, or even as a way to help quit smoking. Smokeless tobacco is not a healthy alternative to smoking. Quitting is the only way to decrease your risk of these and other tobacco-related health problems.

Smokeless tobacco is not a safe alternative to cigarettes, as some young people believe, and it is even more habit forming because it contains a higher concentration of nicotine than cigarettes.

CADCA offers numerous resources on tobacco prevention and cessation through its Geographic Health Equity Alliance. For more information on how to quit, check out the American Cancer Society’s Guide to Quitting Smokeless Tobacco.

Keith A. Vensey is a the Program Manager, Tobacco and Cancer, for CADCA’s Geographic Health Equity Alliance