Smokeless Products Not a Safe Alternative, Says Oral Health America
CHICAGO, Feb. 11 /PRNewswire/ -- The National Spit Tobacco Education Program (NSTEP) is deeply concerned about another attempt by the U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company to promote the sales of its products, this time by claiming their products to be less of a
``The request is both ludicrous and dangerous,'' says Robert Klaus, Oral Health America President. ``It is less dangerous to jump out of a 3rd floor window than a 10th floor window, but no responsible citizen and certainly no health authority, would propose either, especially when safe steps are available. There are many excellent methods for helping people free themselves from tobacco addiction, but these steps would reduce, not increase tobacco sales.''
Little was known about smokeless tobacco until recent years when sales soared after USST changed its marketing strategy in the 1970s to target youths. Now, with more people addicted, more research is being conducted. A recent study showed that there may be serious general health risks such as cardiovascular death in mid-life. There is undisputed knowledge of non-fatal risks to oral health from using spit tobacco. As more is learned about how the brain works, it has become apparent that tobacco addiction is a brain disease. Also, there are many quality of life issues involved when people become dependent on smokeless tobacco products. The most serious risk of developing oral cancer, was reported by the Surgeon General long ago.
In fact, USST acknowledged in 1999 to The Providence Journal, ``the Surgeon General and other public health authorities have concluded that the use of smokeless tobacco can cause oral cancer and is addictive.'' The admission was part of an agreement with Rhode Island Attorney General Sheldon Whitehouse, who filed a legal action against the company for violating the terms of the multi-state tobacco settlement and making false claims about the safety of their products.
``The burden of proof that spit tobacco is safe belongs on the industry,'' says Paul Turner, NSTEP Director. ``Instead, it has tried to slip special favors through federal regulatory systems by exploiting areas of research that have not been fully developed. But enough is known to unequivocally state that smokeless tobacco products are highly addictive, pose a risk to health including oral health, and are not safe alternatives to smoking. USST cannot refute that statement. It is unethical for the USST to seek ways to keep people hooked on tobacco when they are trying to stop smoking. Approval of their request would send a terrible message to children and youths.''
NSTEP was established by Oral Health America in 1994 to educate people, especially young people to the dangers of spit or smokeless tobacco, and help users quit. NSTEP receives funding from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and is supported and endorsed by Major League Baseball, Little League Baseball, and a wide spectrum of sports and public health organizations. For more information, visit http://www.nstep.org or http://www.oralhealthamerica.org .