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The Tobacco Free Partnership of DeSoto County and the QuitDoc Foundation are raising awareness during “Through with Chew Week”
February 10, 2017

DeSoto County, Fla. – The Tobacco Free Partnership of DeSoto County and the QuitDoc Foundation are raising awareness about the dangers of smokeless tobacco – like chew and dip – during Through With Chew Week. This national public awareness campaign was created to reduce the use of smokeless tobacco among young people, and Tobacco Free Florida aims to help combat this deadly addiction. Through With Chew Week takes place Feb. 19-25, with the Great American Spit Out – a day when smokeless tobacco users join together to quit – on Feb. 23.

Although the youth cigarette smoking rate in Florida decreased over 50 percent between 2012 and 2016, the number of Florida high school students who reported current use of smokeless tobacco products decreased only 24.5 percent in those same four years. The disproportionately higher rate of smokeless tobacco use in rural areas is also alarming – current youth smokeless tobacco use is more than three times higher in rural communities than in non-rural areas. 6.2% percent of youth ages 11-17 in DeSoto County reported current use of smokeless tobacco products in 2016, according to the Florida Youth Tobacco Survey.

“While we’re proud that youth smoking is at an all-time low, the number of young Floridians using smokeless tobacco is decreasing at a dramatically slower rate,” said State Surgeon General and Secretary Dr. Celeste Philip. "We need to do more to educate about the risks and deter our young people of using these products.”

Pictured above, L to R: - Melissa Mendoza (Community SWAT Advisor), Jodie DeLoach (Tobacco Prevention Specialist), and Jessica Keene (Partnership Member)

Local Tobacco Free Partnership Members spoke with attendees and provided them with tobacco statistics within Desoto County. Several talking points were mentioned, including but not limited to the fact that “according to the 2016 Florida Youth Tobacco Survey, 6.2% of youth in DeSoto County, between the ages of 11 and 17, currently use smokeless tobacco”. This is a 4% increase compared to the state average, which sits at 2.2%. While this is quite a bit above the state average, we have seen progress in our local statistics over the past few years. Since 2012, our county average of youth who use tobacco products (including cigarettes, cigars, or smokeless) has decreased 4.8%. One of our main concerns in DeSoto County is the 41.8% of youth who reported being exposed to second hand smoke.

We had numerous attendees stop by and express a want to quit tobacco. TFP Members gave these individuals information on the new Quit Your Way program and encouraged them to pursue the quit. The TFP and SWAT Youth are working hard to recruit new members, work with local government to implement policy change, and present tobacco education and prevention to our community.

In addition, the Arcadia Housing Authority recently adopted a tobacco policy to promote better health for residents and to reduce the fire risk associated with smoking. Tobacco use is prohibited 10 feet from common areas, public housing living units, and the AHA administration buildings. We are very proud of the AHA for doing their part to make DeSoto County a healthier environment for all.

At least 28 cancer-causing chemicals have been identified in smokeless tobacco. Smokeless tobacco users have an 80 percent higher risk of oral cancer and a 60 percent higher risk of esophageal cancer and pancreatic cancer compared to non-users. Apart from cancer, smokeless tobacco users can develop other oral health issues, such as mouth sores, gum recession, tooth decay and permanent discoloration of teeth. The use of some types of smokeless tobacco products is also associated with an increased risk of heart disease and fatal stroke.

Currently, there is no scientific or medical evidence that proves smokeless tobacco use is an effective method to help people quit smoking. Floridians who want to quit any form of tobacco have access to the state’s free and proven-effective resources. For more information, please visit

If you are looking to get more involved with SWAT and/or TFP in DeSoto County, visit or email


About the Florida Department of Health
The department, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board, works to protect, promote and improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county and community efforts.

Follow us on Twitter at @HealthyFla and on Facebook. For more information about the Florida Department of Health please visit


About Tobacco Free Florida
The department’s Tobacco Free Florida campaign is a statewide cessation and prevention campaign funded by Florida’s tobacco settlement fund. Since the program began in 2007, more than 159,000 Floridians have successfully quit using one of Tobacco Free Florida's free tools and services. There are now approximately 451,000 fewer adult smokers in Florida than there was 10 years ago, and the state has saved $17.7 billion in health care costs. To learn more about Tobacco Free Florida’s Quit Your Way services, visit or follow the campaign on Facebook at or on Twitter at


Florida Youth Tobacco Survey (FYTS), Florida Department of Health, Bureau of Epidemiology, 2016.

Middle School, High School, and Youth indicators. Florida Youth Tobacco Survey, 2016.

Florida Youth Tobacco Survey (FYTS), Florida Department of Health, Bureau of Epidemiology, 2016.

World Health Organization. Smokeless Tobacco and Some Tobacco-Specific N-Nitrosamines International Agency for Research on Cancer Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans Vol. 89. Lyon, (France): World Health Organization, International Agency for Research on Cancer, 2007 [accessed 2015 Feb 10].

Boffetta, P, et al., “Smokeless tobacco and cancer,” The Lancet 9:667-675, 2008.

 Tomar, SL. “Chewing Tobacco Use and Dental Caries Among U.S. Men,” Journal of the American Dental Association, 1999, 130: 160.

National Cancer Institute and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Smokeless Tobacco and Public Health: A Global Perspective. Bethesda, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute. NIH Publication No. 14-7983; 2014.