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Campaign Announced to Stop Snuff, Chewing Tobacco Use Among Young People

February 21, 1990 GMT

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Medical experts announced plans Wednesday for a week-long, nationwide educational campaign aimed at stopping the use of snuff and chewing tobacco among young people.

The American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Inc. said the ″Through with Chew Week″ campaign is designed to educate teen-agers about the health risks of smokeless tobacco - including life-threatening cancers of the mouth and throat.

″Our goal is to alert the public to the senseless risks of smokeless tobacco,″ Dr. Jerome Goldstein, the academy’s executive vice president, told a news conference.

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The academy represents physicians who specialize in the medical and surgical treatment of health problems of the ear, nose, threat, head and neck.

Goldstein estimated that 12 million people - including 3 million under the age of 21 - use snuff and chewing tobacco. Most users are male, he said.

Among males ages 17-19, snuff use increased 15-fold and chewing tobacco use grew more than four-fold from 1970 to 1986, according to the 1989 surgeon general’s report on smoking.

The British government has decided to ban oral snuff, which is powdered tobacco held in one place in the mouth for an extended period, because of the growing weight of medical and scientific evidence that it causes oral cancer and other diseases.

The ban is intended ″to nip the new habit in the bud,″ said Andrew Health, first secretary in the British Embassy.

As part of the campaign announced Wednesday, the academy and the National Federation of State High School Associations are distributing a 10-minute video to all public and private high schools. The video outlines the social and health risks of smokeless tobacco use.

Most of the 30,000 cases of oral cancers diagnosed in the United States annually are linked to tobacco, said Dr. Roy Sessions, chairman of the department of otolaryngology and head and neck surgery at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington.

About 40 percent of people with oral cancer will die from the disease within five years of such a diagnosis, he said.

He also said studies have shown smokeless tobacco is a more difficult habit to kick than smoking.