Smokeless tobacco has made recent headlines with former MLB players citing their habitual use for their cancer diagnosis, including Tony Gwynn, who recently died after battling salivary gland cancer, and this week, Curt Schilling, who publicly announced his diagnosis of squamous cell carcinoma (cancer of the mouth). Both attributed their cancer to their 30+ years of chewing.
The percentage of adults using chew in Arizona has remained steady at just over 3% (about 17% of Arizonans smoke cigarettes). The “chew” rate is three times higher in rural AZ.
Smokeless tobacco isn’t safe. It affects the mouth and throat more directly than smoking, and is absorbed directly into the gums causing immediate as well as long-term damage. It increases a person’s chance of being diagnosed with oral, esophageal, pancreatic and stomach cancer. Smokeless tobacco users are four times more likely to develop oral cancer than non-users, and their risk for cancer of the cheek or gums increases 50-fold.
But there’s good news. The Arizona Smokers’ Helpline helps smokeless tobacco users too. Since a support system like ASHLine can make the difference for people who decide to stop using any form of tobacco, it’s important that chewers know that ASHLine coaches are here for them too. The ASHLine has almost twice the success rate of other quit lines nationally, and offers free telephone quit coaching at 1.800.55.66.222 and free online quit coaching services via WebQuit ™ at www.ASHLine.org.