Chewing Tobacco Unsafe

We noted with great interest the large ad publicizing chewing tobacco in the March 11 Independent. Many tobacco companies have contributed to this trend by marketing smokeless tobacco as the “safe alternative to cigarettes.”

In reality, smokeless tobacco can cause serious oral health problems, including cancer. While smokeless tobacco use was previously associated with middle-aged to older men, usage by men ages 18-24 is now the highest of any group. Whether male or female, smokeless tobacco users are six times more likely than non-users to get cancers of the mouth and throat, and only about half of those diagnosed with these cancers are alive after five years.

Although we realize that you do not specifically “endorse” the products or services of your advertisers, we would ask that your reader be aware of the bleak consequences of using this product. We value the role of The Santa Barbara Independent in our community. We are aware of your commitment to social, health, environmental, and community issues through your editorial coverage and sponsorships. We hope that you will help us discourage young people in our community from turning to these products as an alternative to cigarettes. — Fred Kass, M.D., Cancer Center of Santa Barbara

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