This year’s Great American Spit Out (GASpO) was on February 21, 2013. The GASpO is a one-day challenge that encourages smokeless tobacco users to skip the dip and go just one day without tobacco. Inspiring students to quit is made a little easier when facts about spit tobacco use are shared. A 2008 study from the WHO International Agency for Research on Cancer concluded that smokeless tobacco users have an 80 percent higher risk of developing oral cancer and a 60 percent higher risk of developing pancreatic and esophageal cancer. Another fact, included in The S.T.O.P. Guide (The Smokeless Tobacco Outreach and Prevention Guide) states that “Leukoplakia, which can lead to oral cancer, occurs in more than half of all users in the first three years of use, with more than 60 percent of spit tobacco users experiencing these oral lesions.” Click here for the National Cancer Institute's fact sheet on smokeless tobacco and the cancer risks associated with spit tobacco usage.
The Lakewood High School’s Breathe Easy (BE) Team – a group of students working to reduce tobacco's toll through education, outreach and advocacy – helped organize a quit challenge for the GASpO. Twelve students signed up for the quit challenge and received a quit kit and support throughout the day. Many of the students had a hard time, but stuck with it. One student told Nicole Swaggerty, Youth Engagement Specialist for the Tobacco Prevention Initiative at Jefferson County Public Health, he was offered dip five times by his peers during the day, but he declined their offers. Another student who pledged to quit for the day said it was hard but the sunflower seeds, toothpicks, text messages and web-based cessation resources such as MyLastDip and ChewFree encouraged him to stay tobacco-free. Throughout the day, students came by the GASpO table and received education about the dangers of smokeless tobacco. For more information about youth tobacco prevention in Jefferson County contact Nicole Swaggerty at 303-239-7007 or firstname.lastname@example.org