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Great American Spit Out, Thursday February 23rd, is an annual effort to encourage those who use smokeless tobacco to quit and discourage youth from starting. In honor of this event and with hopes to hit the message home with their students of the dangers behind smokeless tobacco; United Tribes Technical College and Light of Christ Catholic Schools 7th and 8th Grade Academy will be hosting two national speakers to present Thursday to their students and staff.
Ronnie Trentham, a six-time oral, head and neck cancer survivor, will share his story with students from both schools about the consequences of his personal addiction to smokeless tobacco and the effects it had on him and his family. Ronnie will be accompanied by Cherokee Nation story teller Greg Bilby.
It is especially important to bring this message to our area’s youth because the younger a person is when trying a tobacco product, the more likely they are to become addicted. Studies show that 90% of nicotine addiction begins by an individual’s 18th birthday. According to the most recent Youth Risk Behavior Survey (2015), 10.6 percent of North Dakota high school students used chewing tobacco, snuff or dip, which was higher than the national average of 8.6 percent.
“Despite false claims from tobacco companies, there’s no such thing as a safe tobacco product,” said Jordyn Schaefbauer with Bismarck Burleigh Public Health. “Smokeless tobacco products cause oral cancer, mouth sores, tooth decay, permanent discoloration of the teeth, and countless other health problems.”
Bismarck Burleigh Public Health and the Center for Tobacco Prevention and Control Policy support events like the Great American Spit Out because deterring people from using tobacco products reduces cancer, heart disease, birth defects, and several other negative health impacts, as well as reduces the overall cost of health care for North Dakotans.
Both individuals will be presenting at UTTC from 10:00-11:00a.m. in the James Henry Gymnasium on UTTC’s campus. The event is open to both University of Mary and Bismarck State College students, staff, and faculty. Ronnie and Greg will be at LOCCS Academy presenting to the 7th and 8th grade students from 2:15p.m.-3:15p.m. These events are sponsored by Bismarck Burleigh Public Health with funding from BreatheND (The Center for Tobacco Prevention and Control Policy).