OKEECHOBEE — 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, Okeechobee County is encouraging 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 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, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Courtney Moyett, Tobacco Prevention Specialist with QuitDoc Foundation “We want residents in our area to know that Tobacco Free Florida has free tools and services to help them improve their overall health and quit tobacco.”
Per the 2020 Florida Youth Tobacco Survey, Okeechobee County is double the state percent of youth who currently use smokeless tobacco (Okeechobee 2.6%, Florida 1.7%) and almost triple the state percent in youth who have ever tried smokeless tobacco (Okeechobee 9.2%, Florida 3.7%).
To bring awareness to the dangers of smokeless tobacco in our community, the Okeechobee County Board of County Commissioners are awarding the Tobacco Free Partnership of Okeechobee with a proclamation for Through With Chew Week on Feb. 25.
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, in addition to individual tools like text support, a Quit Guide and helpful emails. Free nicotine replacement therapy – 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.