Wyoming Department of Health: Wyoming’s rates of smokeless tobacco use remain troubling

Through With Chew Week is February 19-25; Great American Spit Out is February 23

A Wyoming Department of Health official is calling the continuing high rates of smokeless tobacco use among state high school students a significant and troubling concern.
Among Wyoming’s high school boys, the rate who said they used spit tobacco in the past 30 days dropped from 24.7 percent in 2009 to 22.1 percent in 2011. “While this lower rate is welcome, it still means that more than one out of five boys uses smokeless tobacco,” said Dr. Wendy Braund, state health officer and senior administrator of the Wyoming Department of Health’s Public Health Division.
Over the same time period the rate of use among high school girls jumped from 6.9 percent to 7.8 percent. Wyoming’s smokeless tobacco use rates are typically higher than the national average for both youth and adults.
“No one, including our state’s young people, should consider smokeless tobacco as a safe or acceptable alternative to smoking,” Braund said.
“Smokeless tobacco use is clearly a bad idea at any age. It’s unhealthy and has been linked to cancer of the mouth, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, and liver, as well as heart disease and stroke,” Braund continued. “A further concern is the possibility that marketing of smokeless tobacco products as an ‘alternative’ to smoking has led to use of both by many folks, which only serves to increase health risks.”
Braund said tobacco users who are ready to quit should contact the Wyoming Quit Tobacco Program. “Studies do show that people who use a support system to quit such as we offer have a higher success rate than those who try to quit without help.”
The Wyoming Quit Tobacco Program, which is part of the department’s Public Health Division, offers significant financial assistance to help cover the costs of cessation medications and free supportive services such as counseling. Interested residents can call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or log on to wy.quitnet.com to enroll. People who call or log on during February will be entered to win a $200 gas card.