Great American Spit Out

Smokeless tobacco contains 2,000 chemical compounds, including thirty that can cause cancer, such as formaldehyde, nickel, cadmium, and radioactive Polonium 210. The level of cancer-causing agents is as much as 100 times higher in smokeless tobacco than in other tobacco products.  These agents and other chemicals in smokeless tobacco cause rotting teeth and cancer in the mouth, esophagus, and pancreas. They can also cause gum disease, heart disease, and precancerous mouth sores. Treatment of oral cancers can result in removal of tissue and bone, including the tongue and jaw. 

Governor Hochul has proposed adding to the flavor ban in e-cigarettes to include banning flavors in all tobacco products, including smokeless tobacco products and menthol in cigarettes. The focus on banning flavors is not a new idea as flavors except menthol were banned in cigarettes in 2009, as the majority of young people who stated they smoked, smoked a cigarette that was flavored.

A study done by the Truth Initiative shows that 69% of youth (12-17 years-old) who first used a smokeless tobacco, used a flavored smokeless product. Research has shown that youth and young adults perceive flavored tobacco products as more appealing, better tasting and less harmful that non-flavored tobacco products. Flavors, especially sweet and fruit flavors, play a role in influencing tobacco use or experimentation in youth and young adults. Companies have also increased their flavor offerings to attract new users. For example, a study of internal tobacco industry documents found that smokeless tobacco product manufacturers added flavors to their products to attract new users, especially young males. The flavoring masks the harshness of the tobacco products which makes them more addictive and harder to quit. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), flavored tobacco is more addictive than regular tobacco products.

Several studies of flavor restrictions at the state or local level, as well as the federal level, show that these policies do have positive impacts, especially on access to flavored products and in reducing youth use of tobacco products.

Tips for quitting include “S.T.A.R.”: setting a date, telling people about the quit attempt, anticipating challenges, and removing triggers.  Prior to the “Great American Spit Out” date of 2/23, all tobacco products, spit cans, etc., must be discarded.  A teeth-cleaning should be scheduled with the dentist, and, if there are tobacco stains on the hands, water with lemon juice is typically effective in removing those stains and smell of tobacco. The person quitting should inform as many people as possible of the quit date and must begin to think of oneself as a non-tobacco user.  This includes asking friends and family who use tobacco to either join that person in the quit attempt, or, to not use tobacco in the presence of that person and not to offer that person tobacco.  The “5 D’s” should also be practiced: drinking water to help with cravings and flush tobacco from the body; deep breathing; delaying the urge until it passes; doing something else; and discussing the issue with a supportive person.  Cinnamon sticks, cinnamon tea, cinnamon gum, and cinnamon candy all help to curb tobacco cravings.

Research has shown that tobacco users are most successful in quitting when they have some means of support, such as nicotine replacement products, counseling, prescription medications to reduce cravings, guide books, and the encouragement of friends and family.  Success rates increase when tools are combined, such as using nicotine replacement while attending classes.

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