1. Myth: There is no evidence that chew” is dangerous. Fact

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There are many myths that circulate about tobacco, both “spit” and “chew.” Below are some common myths and facts about spit tobacco and tobacco use.

1. Myth: There is no evidence that "chew” is dangerous.

Fact: The evidence is clear. It may take only a few months to develop ugly white sores in the mouth, which can turn into cancer.

2. Myth: “Chew” must be safe, because athletes use it.

Fact: “Chew” can cause oral health disease which could lead to cancer of the cheek, tongue and mouth. Chew can also contribute to heart disease.

3. Myth: It is easy to quit using tobacco.

Fact: It’s hard to quit! Most people don’t succeed in quitting their chew/dip tobacco habit the first time they try. Many find it too hard to quit, even when tobacco use has caused them to get cancer or heart disease.

4. Myth: A little bit of “chew” now and then won’t get me hooked.

Fact: It doesn’t take a lot to become addicted to “chew.” It contains more nicotine than cigarettes.

5. Myth: My friends use “chew” and it’s not hurting them.

Fact: If your friends are regular users of “chew,” ask them to show you the area in their mouths where they hold the tobacco. You’ll probably see white patches or sores.

6. Myth: Cigarette smoking is harmful, but spit tobacco is safe to use.

Fact: Many people assume that smokeless tobacco is an okay alternative to smoking. As a result of this false assumption, there has been a recent resurgence in the use of chew/dip tobacco. However, current scientific information has revealed that chew/dip tobacco is not a safe alternative to smoking cigarettes. In fact, snuff contains 10 times as much of a cancer-causing agent as cigarettes.

7. Myth: No one ever died from using “chew.”

Fact: Sean Marsee, a high school track star, died at the age of 18, because he used “chew,” which caused mouth cancer. In 1998, Bob Leslie, a baseball coach from Sonoma California died from oral cancer at the age of 31, after beginning to use chew when he was 13 years old.

8. Myth: Tobacco can be sold legally to anyone of any age.

Fact: It is against the law in most states for anyone to sell tobacco to people under the age of 18.


1. Look at yourself in the mirror to check for the appearance of any swelling, unevenness or distortion of your head or neck areas.

• Pressing lightly with your fingers, move them under your chin and along your neck feeling for any unusual lumps or tender spots.

2. Look for any changes in the color or texture of your lips on both the inside & outside.

Look for any cracks, splits or “oozing sores” that are either slow to heal or change in size and grow larger.

• Feel for any lumps or bumps.

3. Check the inside tissues of your cheeks.

• Look for any gray or red rippled or raised patches of skin tissue or any sores

4. Look at and feel the floor of your mouth.

• Feel for any lumps or tender spots.

• Look for any sores or raised areas in the tissue.

• Use a mouth mirror & flashlight (if available) to get a better look.

5. Look at and feel the roof of your mouth, back of the throat, soft palate and tonsils.

• Use a mouth mirror and flashlight (if available) to get a better look

• Feel for any abraded or “raw” areas, redness, gray or white patches or open sores.

6. Stick out your tongue—Look on the top, bottom and all sides.

• Use a gauze pad or wet washcloth to hold the end of your tongue and pull straight out.

• Look for any gray, white or red abraded (raw) patches.

• Look for any lumps or unevenness.

7. Inspect the general appearance of your teeth and the surrounding gum tissue.

• Look for any red, abraded (raw) areas with bleeding, pus drainage or loose teeth.

• Look for any areas of your mouth where the gum tissue has recessed or “shrunk” along the root surfaces of the teeth.

• Look for any open sores or any sores slow to heal.


From Dental Health Foundation/ California Department of Health Services, Tobacco Control Section



Each year over 9,000 chewers die from oral cancer in this country!

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