Millions of teens across the nation use smokeless tobacco -- often referred to as spit, chew or dip -- with the misconception that it is less dangerous and less addictive than the tobacco used in cigarettes. The Ohio Dental Association continues to remain proactive towards educating the youth population about the dangers of smokeless tobacco.

A recent report published in the Feb. 2007 "Tobacco Control" journal cited conclusions from an ongoing American Cancer Society study which found that people who switched from cigarettes to spit tobacco were twice as likely to die from throat or mouth cancer then those who quit all tobacco use. The study also found that tobacco, whether in cigarette or spit form, contributes to health problems such as cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and bone loss.

"Smokeless tobacco is not a safe alternative to smoking cigarettes, and should be not considered a method of cessation," said H. Sam Fick, Ohio Dental Association president. "The ODA promotes the continued education about the potential risks and dangers of smokeless tobacco use through its Operation TACTIC (Teens Against Chewing Tobacco in the Community) program".

The TACTIC program helps educate teens about the dangers of smokeless tobacco, spring- boarding off of a story about an Ohio man who died at the age of 31 after using smokeless tobacco since he was 13 years old. Topics covered in the program include:

-- Receding gums, tooth decay, mouth sores, bleeding gums and bad breath

-- The increased risk of leukoplakia -- white spots in the tongue which can be an early indicator of oral cancer

-- The increased risk of lip, throat, mouth, voice box, esophagus and other cancers

The program provides tools, materials and resources to create an interactive and information learning experience for students and adults of all ages. It also serves well as a diversion program for offenders of the schools tobacco use policy.

"With the arrival of spring sports, the ODA encourages school districts to fully enforce a no-tolerance policy for use of smokeless tobacco that is as stringent as it is for cigarettes, drugs and other banned substances," said Fick.

Ohio Dental Association
oda/gendeninfo/tactic.cfm

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