TALLAHASSEE — Tobacco products like chew, dip and snuff are not harmless.
But because they're smokeless, youth and adults may underestimate the serious health risks associated with these products.
While cigarette use declines, smokeless tobacco use has remained steady among Florida's youth for more than a decade.
To help raise awareness about smokeless tobacco's dangers, the Florida Department of Health's Bureau of Tobacco Free Florida is observing Through With Chew Week, which ends Saturday.
"Some youth may mistakenly believe that when they start smoking or use any tobacco product, they are able to quit very easily," said State Surgeon General and Secretary of Health Dr. John Armstrong. "This type of addiction is very hard to break, and the health risks are extremely high for any tobacco product."
The Tobacco Free Florida campaign is a statewide cessation and prevention campaign funded by Florida's tobacco settlement fund.
●Constant exposure to tobacco juices from smokeless products can cause oral cancers. These can form within five years of regular use, and can cause cancer of the esophagus, pharynx, larynx, stomach and pancreas.
●Smokeless tobacco use can increase the risk of oral cancers by 80 percent and the risk of pancreatic and esophageal cancer by 60 percent, according to a 2008 study from the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer.
●Using smokeless tobacco also can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. It can lead to other oral problems including mouth sores, gum recession, tooth decay and permanent teeth discoloration.
●Smokeless tobacco use also can result in reduced sperm count and abnormal sperm cells. Women who use smokeless tobacco may be at an increased risk of preeclampsia— a condition that may include high blood pressure, fluid retention and swelling— along with premature birth and low birth weight.
Smokeless tobacco products contain nicotine, an addictive and dangerous chemical.
Smokeless tobacco users and cigarette smokers have comparable levels of nicotine in the blood, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Tobacco Free Florida has three ways to help smokeless tobacco users quit.
See www.tobaccofreeflorida.com for more information.