CLEWISTON/LABELLE — Each year, Through With Chew Week raises awareness about the dangers of smokeless tobacco use (chew, dip and snus) and the effective tools available to quit. This “Through With Chew Week,” Feb. 21-27, Hendry County Health Department encouraged smokeless tobacco users to set a quit date and use Tobacco Free Florida’s free and proven-effective resources to quit for good.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, quitting smokeless tobacco is more important than ever. Smokeless tobacco is harmful to health and is highly addictive. The use of some types of smokeless tobacco products is associated with an increased risk of heart disease and stroke, and having heart disease increases your risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Smokeless tobacco also contains harmful chemicals, such as a radioactive element called polonium-210 and harmful metals including arsenic and lead. Some of these chemicals are known to cause cancer. Apart from cancer, other oral health issues from smokeless tobacco include mouth sores, gum recession, tooth decay, and permanent discoloration of teeth.
“Smokeless tobacco poses serious health risks, and the use among adults in rural areas continues to increase” said Kristi Hall, Tobacco Prevention Specialist “We want residents in Hendry County to know that Tobacco Free Florida has free tools and services to help them improve their overall health and quit tobacco.”
In the past, Hendry Tobacco Free Partnership has participated in the Swamp Cabbage Parade in LaBelle and the Hendry County Fair in Clewiston to help increase awareness of Smokeless Tobacco and Through With Chew Week. This year, due to COVID-19, the SWAT clubs took a different approach to spreading awareness.
Hendry County School SWAT Club’s in both Clewiston and LaBelle Middle and High Schools participated in a “Skip The Dip” jump rope competition. “It was very fun-filled. The students really enjoyed participating and spreading awareness.” said Ms. Ross, LaBelle High School SWAT advisor. Ms. Porth, the SWAT advisor for Clewiston Middle School stated, “The students did a race and had to jump from one end to the other.”
Those looking to quit tobacco can create a personalized quit plan using Tobacco Free Florida’s free Quit Your Way tools and services. The Quit Your Way program offers free tools and services like Phone Quit, Group Quit and Web Quit, as well as individual tools like text support, a Quit Guide and helpful emails. Free nicotine replacement therapy such as nicotine patches, gum or lozenges are available to tobacco users who are 18 or older, if medically appropriate.
For more information on quitting tobacco, you can call 1-877-U-CAN-NOW (1-877-822-6669) or visit tobaccofreeflorida.com/quityourway.