What are your kids chewing?

One-quarter of all tobacco “spit” or “chew” users are between the ages of 15 and 19 years old. And that’s exactly how the tobacco industry intends it.

Dear Editor:

Did you know that 40 per cent of the flavoured tobacco sold in Canada is bought in Alberta?

Perhaps even more shocking is the fact that one-quarter of all tobacco “spit” or “chew” users are between the ages of 15 and 19 years old. And that’s exactly how the tobacco industry intends it. As it loses its older smokers, the industry is reeling in younger users with fruit- and candy-flavoured tobacco products. Such flavours mask the unpleasant taste of tobacco and make it easier for kids to use, allowing them to become addicted.

But there isn’t a flavour in the world that can mask the deadly consequences of chewing tobacco. The same cancer-causing substances in cigarettes are also in chewing tobacco, regardless of flavourings added.

We dare you to find a high school locker room or an arena where a significant number of the young players aren’t chewing tobacco. And it’s so much easier to get away with than smoking. It’s easier to conceal and, as many users will argue, it’s not bothering anyone else.

But this form of tobacco is just as habit forming and lethal, and it’s unconscionable that the tobacco industry is targeting kids and teenagers with it.

So the Canadian Cancer Society urges you to check on your kids — what are they chewing? Sure, it could be gum. Or, it could be a lethal, addictive tobacco product that might plague them for the rest of their lives.

For more information, go to www.cancer.ca where you can find out more about the deceptive marketing practices of the tobacco industry and how they’re trying to lure kids into becoming users.

Jenna Millar,

community services co-ordinator,

Canadian Cancer Society, Red Deer

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