Chewing Tobacco- It’s Worse than You Thought

People are always talking about how smoking can give you a myriad of problems, the worst being lung cancer. Many teenagers don’t seem to care, but the ones that do seem to use chewing tobacco. They think that they’re not inhaling it into their lungs, or swallowing it, so it must be much better. Unfortunately, they’re wrong, and chewing tobacco is just as dangerous as smoking cigarettes. About 23% of teenagers in high school use chewing tobacco, and most of them became addicted before the age of 13. Peer pressure is one of the main reasons that so many teenagers use it. Many end up getting brands that have more nicotine, which makes the addiction even stronger.

Chewing tobacco became very popular due to baseball players using it. You’d often see
a baseball player with a bulge in his mouth, and spitting into the field. Many baseball
players who used it regretted it deeply later; they developed tumors and cancer which
ended their lives. One example is an outfielder named Bill Tuttle. He was a baseball
player who was always seen with a bulge of chewing tobacco in his mouth, and later
on in his life he developed a different type of bulge. A massive tumor came from his
cheek. Much of his face had to be removed, including his jawbone, a lot of his teeth and
gum-line, his taste buds, and his right cheek bone. Cancer took his life in 1988. Since he
began chewing tobacco as a teenager, it ruined his life, and he spent the rest of his life
trying to convince people not to use it.

Some other effects of chewing tobacco, besides brown-stained teeth and bad breath,
would be receding gums, increased risk of having strokes, mouth sores, cracked and
bleeding gums and lips, and also cancer. Cancer and tumors due to chewing tobacco
happens to about 30,000 Americans every year. It is a very real problem, and teenagers
need to learn to quit before they suffer from tobacco effects.

Some tips to quit chewing tobacco would be to use a nicotine patch, which should
help nullify the urge for chewing tobacco. Some teenagers will feel the need to have
something to chew on, so it is best to keep foods like sugarless gum, hard candy, beef
jerky, and raisins around. Getting into exercising will also help the quitting process,
while also being a good distraction. It will take time, and it’s best to get support from
friends and family who can help along the way.

-Christine Levy

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