In the last few years, use of chewing tobacco has increased among students at Ridgewood High School. I have been surprised to hear from my son about kids using chewing tobacco at parties, after sport practice and even all day long at school. I can see the appeal for them -- it's so easy. And easy to conceal. Think about it: a kid can't walk around school smoking a cigarette, but he (and it's virtually 100% boys) can walk the halls with a chewing tobacco pouch in his mouth.
I understand that chewing tobacco (aka spit tobacco) use at RHS is cyclical. It goes in and out of popularity. Well, apparently, over the past year or so it's been on an upswing.
It's frustrating to see how manufacturers of smokeless tobacco products are marketing to kids, and some kids really think that chewing tobacco is a harmless alternative to smoking cigarettes. Yesterday's Bergen Record contained a story about tobacco companies encouraging smokers to use smokeless tobacco. Make no mistake: smokeless tobacco is not harmless and can be the cause of throat and mouth cancer. A very good friend of mine recently went through treatment for throat cancer, which he acquired after using chewing tobacco when he quit smoking. He is healthy, with one sad side effect: he lost his ability to taste anything sweet.
On January 18, 2011 at 7 PM in the Media Center at Ridgewood High School, Jamie England from the Center for Alcohol and Drug Resources will present to parents the Facts about Chewing Tobacco. Come and learn about smokeless tobacco and how to talk with your child about this dangerous and addictive product. Questions, call the Ridgewood Parks and Rec office at 201-670-5560. Funding for this program is made possible through GCADA, NJ Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, and the Ridgewood Municipal Alliance.
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