Dentists, otolaryngologists—physicians concerned with the ears, nose, and throat—and the Public Health Departments across the United Statesproclaimed the week of February 16–22, 2014, as "Through With Chew Week" in an effort to call attention to the use of smokeless tobacco. The Van Buren Youth Leadership Council also worked to bring awareness to these dangers.
In 2011, 7.3% of high school students in the United States used smokeless tobacco. The public awareness campaign is designed to reduce the use of smokeless tobacco among young people.
Youth Leadership Council Members set up information about the harms of chewing tobacco during a display at lunch. They used Mr. Gross Mouth as a prop and shared facts and information with their peers to encourage them to quit using if they do, and to never start if they don’t.
"Smokeless tobacco is not a safe alternative to cigarettes, as some young people believe, and it is even more habit forming because it contains a higher concentration of nicotine than cigarettes," remarked Heidi Bainbridge YLC Advisor.
Smokeless tobacco can cause oral cancer, especially in the cheeks, gums, and throat. In addition, smokeless tobacco is addicting. The use of smokeless tobacco can also lead to other oral problems, such as mouth sores, gum recession, tooth decay, bad breath, and permanent discoloration of teeth.