Jarvill: Spitting your life away


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In the recent years, smoking has become one of the most frowned-upon activities of our generation. Anti-smoking campaigns seem to have become as common as advertisements for new cars. The campaign against smoking has successfully created a stigma for smoking that breathes unattractive health concerns.

With this being said, a big question in my mind is: Why is it that smoking has deservingly been given this reputation but smokeless tobacco, such as chewing tobacco, hasn’t been made a bigger deal in our easily marketed society?

According to the National Cancer Society, 20 percent of men use smokeless tobacco as well as 3 percent of women. Using smokeless tobacco drastically increases the chances of mouth, pancreatic, salivary, and esophagus cancer. Smokeless tobacco contains 28 cancer-causing carcinogens and is also strongly associated with leukoplakia — a precancerous lesion of the soft tissue in the mouth that consists of a white patch or plaque that cannot be scraped off.

This is not only scary but a reality of many people every day. Mouth cancer is the 16th most common of form of cancer, which doesn’t seem that high but it could also be even lower if the cancers formed by smokeless tobacco were eliminated. The effects of smokeless tobacco are frightening, and the media portrays these consequences in an underwhelming manner.

People often view chewing tobacco as something that less harmless than traditional cigarettes but from the information above it seems far from it.

Last summer, former Major League Baseball star Tony Gywnn died of salivary cancer, a disease he credited to years of chewing tobacco on and off the baseball field. A number of MLB players are seen throughout the game with a pouch of tobacco in their lips — this is not giving an outstanding impression to kids at home who view these players as heroes.  It makes it seem like it is a “cool thing to do.”

Meanwhile, if you saw a MLB player smoking outside the locker room after the game, one might think he is a loser and should realize he is a role model. I am in no way defending smoking here and agree wholeheartedly that it is a terrible choice that harms the body. So is chewing tobacco, which is the point to be made. Hopefully, Gwynn’s passing helps us find the realization that chewing tobacco has effects on peoples health and can be deadly.

Tobacco in general has given our society nothing, ultimately leading to bad outcomes for people, families, and generations. Wars have been fought because of it and people have died because of addiction from the nicotine in it.

If we want to look out for the wellbeing of our society, like we have been with the discrediting of smoking, then smokeless tobacco has to be next. Giving chewing tobacco a negative stigma is something that is necessary, and should be easy.

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