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Smokeless Tobacco Use Low, But Consistent

By Debra Ithier

February 16, 2018

Contact: Debora Ithier
Florida Department of Health in Lee County
Debora.Ithier@flhealth.gov
239-332-9514

Fort Myers, Fla. – The Tobacco-Free Lee Coalition and the Florida Department of Health’s Tobacco Free Florida Program are raising awareness about the dangers of smokeless tobacco – like chew and dip, during Through With Chew Week. This public awareness campaign was created to reduce the use of smokeless tobacco among young people and help combat this deadly addiction. This year’s Through With Chew Week takes place Feb. 18-24.

To raise awareness about the dangers of smokeless tobacco use, The Tobacco-Free Lee Coalition is the recipient of the proclamation recognizing 2018 Through with Chew Week in Lee County. The proclamation takes place on Feb. 20, 2018, at 9 a.m. at Lee County Commission Board Chambers in the Old Lee County Courthouse, 2120 Main Street, Fort Myers. 

Although smokeless tobacco use is low, the rate has fluctuated and disproportionately affects certain areas:

  • In 2012, the rate of adult smokeless tobacco use was 3.2 percent. In 2016, the rate was at 3.0 percent. This decrease is minimal compared to the rate at which cigarette use has dropped (17.7 percent to 15.5 percent).[i]
  • Rural communities in particular have experienced challenges in battling smokeless tobacco use. Individuals living in these areas are more likely to use tobacco – particularly smokeless tobacco.[ii]

“While we are proud that youth smokeless use is at an all-time low, the number of adult Floridians using smokeless tobacco is still an issue,” said Dr. Kellie O’Dare, Tobacco Free Florida Bureau Chief. "We want to remind smokeless tobacco users that our cessation services are for everyone – not just smokers.”

At least 28 cancer-causing chemicals have been identified in smokeless tobacco.[iii] Smokeless tobacco users have an 80 percent higher risk of oral cancer and a 60 percent higher risk of esophageal cancer and pancreatic cancer compared to non-users.[iv]

There is no scientific or medical evidence that proves smokeless tobacco use is an effective method to help people quit smoking. Floridians who want to quit any form of tobacco have access to the state’s free and proven-effective resources. For more information, please visit www.tobaccofreeflorida.com/quityourway.

About the Florida Department of Health

The department, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board, works to protect, promote and improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county and community efforts.

Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @HealthyFla.  For more information about the Florida Department of Health please visit www.FloridaHealth.gov.

About Tobacco Free Florida

The department’s Tobacco Free Florida campaign is a statewide cessation and prevention campaign funded by Florida’s tobacco settlement fund. Since the program began in 2007, more than 159,000 Floridians have successfully quit using one of Tobacco Free Florida's free tools and services. There are now approximately 451,000 fewer adult smokers in Florida than there was 10 years ago, and the state has saved $17.7 billion in health care costs. To learn more about Tobacco Free Florida’s Quit Your Way services, visit www.tobaccofreeflorida.com or follow the campaign on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TobaccoFreeFlorida or on Twitter at www.twitter.com/tobaccofreefla.



[i] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey Data. Atlanta, Georgia: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016.

[ii] Horn, Kimberly . Cutting Tobacco’s Rural Roots. American Lung Assocation , www.lung.org/assets/documents/research/cutting-tobaccos-rural-roots.pdf.

[iii] World Health Organization. Smokeless Tobacco and Some Tobacco-Specific N-Nitrosamines International Agency for Research on Cancer Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans Vol. 89. Lyon, (France): World Health Organization, International Agency for Research on Cancer, 2007 [accessed 2015 Feb 10].

[iv] Boffetta, P, et al., “Smokeless tobacco and cancer,” The Lancet 9:667-675, 2008.