The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

January 26, 2013

Give a great gift — give up spit tobacco

As Valentine’s Day is approaching, remember that nothing stops Cupid’s arrow faster than a mouth full of spit tobacco. As others celebrate by exchanging cards, gifts and kisses, spit tobacco users find themselves alone — after all, who wants to risk getting slipped a wad of chew during an kiss?

But avoiding a solitary evening isn’t the only reason to say no to spit tobacco use. In addition to causing bad breath and unsightly stained teeth (not to mention those little flecks of tobacco that get mired between teeth), spit tobacco can be deadly.

Like its cousin, the form of tobacco smoked in cigarettes, spit tobacco contains nicotine, the substance that causes people to become addicted.

And smokeless does not mean harmless, as the two forms of tobacco both contain cancer-causing poisons. Each year approximately 30,500 new cases of mouth and throat cancer are diagnosed and over 8,000 people die of these cancers.

More horrifying than the physical disfigurement caused by these cancers and the surgeries needed to remove them is the fact that almost three-fourths of the cases of mouth and throat cancer can be directly attributed to use of tobacco and alcohol.

The Southern Coalfields Tobacco Prevention Coalition has joined other tobacco prevention coalitions in the state to promote the West Virginia Save Face, Stop Spit Tobacco Campaign.

This Valentine’s Day, I hope you give your loved ones a gift they will treasure: Stop using spit tobacco. Call the WV Tobacco Quit line: 800-QUIT-NOW.

Donald R. Reed Jr., M.A. CTTS

Director of Special Projects (Tobacco Reduction)

Southern Coalfields Tobacco Prevention Coalition Network Office