SOUTH BEND - Although smoking rates in Washington have steadily dropped across the state, the same is not true for spit tobacco rates. The use of spit tobacco (statewide) has hovered around 5 percent for 10th graders and 3 percent within the adult population since 2000. Although these statewide rates seem insignificant, percentages increase dramatically when looking at rural areas like Pacific County.

Adolescent and adult-aged men from suburban and rural areas are considerably more prone to use spit tobacco than these same aged men from urban areas. Tests find that approximately 16 percent of young men between the ages of 18- to 29-years-old living in suburban and rural areas of Washington use spit tobacco.

According to Secretary of Health Mary Selecky, "Many young people and adults think using spit tobacco is a safe alternative to smoking, but that's not true. Spit tobacco contains 28 cancer-causing agents and can significantly increase the risk of mouth cancer, which is extremely painful and difficult to treat." Tobacco is considered the nation's number one cause of preventable death.

Education programs like Teens Against Tobacco Use (T.A.T.U.) understand that individuals are most often introduced to tobacco products at an early age. The goal of T.A.T.U., which was developed by the American Lung Association, is to teach middle and elementary aged students about the hazards of using tobacco products.

Currently Raymond, Willapa Valley, and Ocean Beach School Districts have 30 students involved in the T.A.T.U. program that is sponsored by the Pacific County Health Department. These high school students are trained to provide interactive presentations in fourth through sixth grade classrooms around Pacific County. Approximately 500 students county wide receive these presentations each year.

For more information about T.A.T.U. or the Washington State Tobacco Quit Line contact Katie Lindstrom with the Pacific County Health & Human Services Department at 875-9343 or 642-9349.

Chew Tobacco Usage

Grade Pacific Statewide

County

6th grade 2.9% 1%

8th grade 5.8% 2.8%

10th grade 13.1% 4.9%

12th grade 10.3% 7.6%

For individuals in Washington who want help quitting spit tobacco or smoking call the toll-free Washington State Tobacco Quit Line (www.quitline.com) at (877) 270-STOP. The quit line offers free help from tobacco cessation specialist referrals to local cessation programs and quit kits. Most people can receive free nicotine replacement therapy (gum, nicotine patches, etc.) by calling the quit line.

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