Nationally dentists, otolaryngologists—physicians concerned with the ears, nose, and throat—have proclaimed the week of February 19-25, 2017, as "Through with Chew Week" in an effort to call attention to the use of smokeless tobacco.
In 2014, more than 5 of every 100 high school students (5.5%) in the United States used smokeless tobacco. Locally, in 2014 on the Iowa Youth Survey 15% or 11th grade students reported having used smokeless tobacco at least once in the past 30 days. The public awareness campaign is designed to reduce the use of smokeless tobacco among young people.
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. 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.