Skip the dip during ‘Through With Chew Week’

HENDRY COUNTY — During this year’s “Through With Chew Week,” Feb. 18-24, Tobacco Free Florida and The Hendry County Tobacco Prevention Program are encouraging smokeless tobacco users to set a quit date and create a personalized quit plan using Tobacco Free Florida’s free Quit Your Way tools and services. “Through with Chew Week” raises awareness about the dangers of smokeless tobacco use (chew, dip and snuffs) and the many effective resources available to quit.

“Smokeless tobacco creates significant health hazards to its users and is not a safe alternative to smoking” stated Andrea May, Director of Community Health Promotions for the Florida Department of Health in Hendry and Glades counties.

Smokeless tobacco is NOT harmless and can lead to nicotine addiction. Smokeless tobacco causes cancer of the mouth, throat and pancreas, as well as increased risk of death from heart disease or stroke. In fact, smokeless tobacco users have an 80 percent higher risk of oral cancer and a 60 percent higher risk of esophageal cancer and pancreatic cancer compared to non-users.

To raise awareness about the dangers of smokeless tobacco use, The Hendry County Tobacco Free Partnership and The Hendry County Tobacco Prevention Program will be participating in the Swamp Cabbage Parade in LaBelle, Hendry County. The parade takes place Saturday, Feb. 23, at 10 a.m. Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) will be walking in recognition of the dangers of smokeless tobacco use. The students will be creating and holding signs explaining the risks of smokeless tobacco as well as the benefits of quitting.

While smokeless tobacco use among Florida youth (11-17) has decreased throughout the years, many rural communities have significantly higher prevalence rates. The current youth smokeless tobacco rates in some of Florida’s rural areas are two to four times higher than the state average.

According to the 2018 Florida Youth Tobacco Survey, in Hendry County, the percentage of youth who currently use smokeless tobacco is 3.7 percent, whereas the State is 1.7 percent. The percentage of youth who have ever tried smokeless tobacco is 6.8 percent in Hendry and 4.4 percent in the state. The percentage of youth who have used smokeless tobacco on school property is 1.6 percent in Hendry and 0.7 percent for the state.

Tobacco Free Florida offers free tools and services for Floridians looking to quit any form of tobacco, including smokeless tobacco. Those looking to quit can call 1-877-U-CAN-NOW (1-877-822-6669) or visit www.tobaccofreeflorida.com/quityourway.

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