AUBURN, AL (WTVM) - Tobacco is the primary cause of preventable deaths
As the harmful effects of cigarettes continue to receive national attention, health officials hope to draw focus to the dangers of smokeless tobacco.
"The negative health impacts, as for your oral health or physical health, can become extreme if you become addicted to it and use it for long periods of time," explains Kathe Briggs, Director of Health Promotions and Disease Management at the East Alabama Medical Center.
According to the 2014 Alabama Youth Tobacco Survey, 9.7 percent of Alabama's high school students are current smokeless tobacco users.
Even though that number is down from 12.6 percent, it is still higher than the national average at 6.4 percent.
"Nicotine is as addictive as cocaine, heroin, crack, all those drugs that when you hear the names you go wow, that's very addictive don't ever try it and I would say the same thing to anyone who wants to just try smokeless or chewing tobacco," says Briggs.
"Through with the Chew Week" begins Monday, February 16, and the campaign is aimed at reducing the use of all types of smokeless tobacco like snuff, snus and dissolvable tobacco.
These products can lead to health problems including multiple types of oral cancer, cavities, gum disease and heart disease.
And if you believe switching to e-cigarettes is a healthier option, think again.
"E-cigarettes also contain tobacco, but they contain other ingredients that we really haven't studied, so they're not FDA approved, there isn't research, there isn't evidence based literature out there to prove they can be used as a substitute for regular cigarettes," says Briggs.
In Alabama, resources are available to help residents quit smokeless tobacco.
The Alabama Tobacco Quitline offers free help to anyone ready to quit tobacco use, or to anyone who wants more information about quitting.
For more information on the Alabama Tobacco Quitline, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or visit