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February 19, 2009 3:39 am

Through with chew: Week highlights dangers of tobacco

Written by Tribune Staff

The dangers of secondhand cigarette smoke have been in the limelight recently as the Legislature considers a smoking ban.

A less-publicized form of tobacco now is garnering attention during “Through With Chew Week,” which runs until Saturday.

The purpose of the week is to remind people that chewing tobacco is not a safe alternative to smoking. One in three patients diagnosed with oral cancer will die from it.

However, as public smoking is discouraged, an adverse effect could be an increase in chewing tobacco use, according to Connie Zierke, Tobacco Prevention Coordinator for Park County.

A recent ad campaign featured an unsightly image of a rattlesnake weaving out of a man's mouth. The metaphor, in addition to being attention-grabbing, is fitting. Oral cancer strikes quickly and usually kills quickly.

At Northwest College today (Thursday), Tobacco Prevention in Park County personnel will educate students on tobacco use and its potential dangers.

From 11 a.m.-1 p.m., Dr. Leonard Moore will conduct free oral screenings for students.

The group also is providing “Quit Kits,” which are available at several local dentists' offices in Park County and at the Prevention and Wellness Office in the Coe Medical Center.

While the dangers of secondhand smoke are worth recognizing, it's also necessary to note that smokeless tobacco isn't harmless either.