National Through with Chew Week, February 20–26

February 20-26 is Through with Chew Week, a campaign aimed at decreasing the use of smokeless tobacco (a/k/a "spit tobacco"). This week is also home to the Great American Spit Out, set for February 24.

There are two types of smokeless tobacco: chewing tobacco and snuff. Chewing tobacco is available in the form of loose-leaf, plug, or twist. Snuff is finely-ground tobacco that is available dry, moist, or in tea-bag-like pouches called sachets. Although some forms of snuff can be used by sniffing or inhaling it into the nose, most smokeless tobacco users place the product between their gum and cheek.

Smokeless tobacco is a significant health risk and is not a safe substitute for smoking cigarettes. Constant exposure to tobacco juices from smokeless tobacco can cause cancer of the esophagus, pharynx, larynx, stomach, and pancreas. Smokeless tobacco users are at heightened risk for oral cancer compared to non-users, and these cancers can form within five years of regular use. We encourage useres to get regular oral health checkups with their doctor and/or dentist, as early detection can be key to survival.

We urge smokeless tobacco users to quit. The Alabama Tobacco Quitline offers free quitting assistance, including counseling and nicotine patches. For more information, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or visit The Alabama Tobacco Quitline.

Through with Chew Week was established in 1989 by the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery to increase awareness of the negative health effects of using smokeless tobacco products.