ODA: Try This Winning Tactic To Fight Smokeless Tobacco
COLUMBUS, Ohio, June 5 /PRNewswire/ -- The Ohio Dental Association continues to battle the use of smokeless tobacco through Operation T.A.C.T.I.C. (Teens Against Chewing Tobacco in the Community). T.A.C.T.I.C. is an ongoing effort in Ohio's school distric
Reaching youth is critical, as 15.3 percent of high school males and 8.2 percent of middle school boys in Ohio reported having used smokeless tobacco within the past 30 days, according to the 2000 Ohio Youth Tobacco Survey. In North American, its use is most prevalent among white male youth and young adults ages 10 to 30.
While some youth believe that smokeless tobacco is a safe alternative to cigarettes, research demonstrates its many dangers. According to the National Cancer Institute, chewing tobacco and snuff contain 28 carcinogens and raises the chances of oral cancer, as well as head and neck cancers. Recent research at Wake Forest University also links its use to an increased incidence of breast cancer, alarming news for teen girls drawn to its use to encourage weight loss. Female teens are believed to use smokeless tobacco as an appetite suppressant, for the nicotine ``buzz'' and because of peer pressure.
More often than not, smokeless tobacco use leads to leukoplakia, or white patches and oral lesions. More than half of users will see these symptoms within three years of starting use. About 5 percent of leukoplakias are cancerous when found or exhibit changes that progress to cancer within 10 years, according to the American Cancer Society.
``The risk of oral cancer is not diminished when young people choose smokeless tobacco rather than cigarettes or cigars,'' said Nancy Quinn, executive director of the association. ``Young people need to know that they are at risk for many cancers, and even those lucky enough to escape that danger can do serious damage to their teeth and gums. At the very least they will have bad breath and an unsightly mouth.''
Fortunately, efforts such as T.A.C.T.I.C. do get results. The American Dental Association reports that 35 percent of college athletes who participated in such programs gave up chewing tobacco within a year vs. 16 percent who did not take part, according to a study by the University of California in San Francisco. And usage figures reported in the current Ohio Youth Tobacco Survey are down from 1997, when 18.9 percent of male respondents indicated use within 30 days.
Stopping use early provides clear benefits. Most lesions of the mouth in healthy young men will dissipate six weeks after quitting, according to a 1999 U.S. Air Force study reported by the American Dental Association. It was unclear if those benefits would apply to older smokeless tobacco users.
Schools can incorporate T.A.C.T.I.C. easily into the curriculum of any age level; the program module, which includes a video and instruction manual, is available from the ODA for $35 -- and all materials can be duplicated for use throughout the classroom and school. In addition, the program can be tailored by teachers to fit within a one-time program or as an ongoing study, with activity sheets and learning modules.
The enclosed materials highlight alarming statistics and facts about the dangers of smokeless tobacco and positive steps parents, schools, the community and those using smokeless tobacco can take to reduce the incidence of use.
For additional information, call the ODA at (614) 486-2700 or visit www.oda.org .