The days when you see adults and young people actively puffing away on cigarettes in the open are few and far between. You may still see the ominous faded outline of a can of tobacco in the back pocket of a pair of jeans, but the chance you will see a pack of smokes rolled up in a someones shirt sleeve are long gone. The old smoking culture in the U.S. allowed and accepted that behavior. You started smoking to define who you were, and continued because you were hooked. Teachers lounges were filled with smoke, and the students smoked out in their cars at lunch or in the restrooms between classes. You knew who the tobacco users were. It’s not that simple anymore. The tide has changed and the growing health concerns over secondhand smoke have prompted states and cities to ban smoking in workplaces, school properties, and public gathering spots.
The tide may have changed but the tobacco industry is riding the wave and putting new products into the market which don’t require lighting up. The new products are called dissolvables or spit-less tobacco. It’s compressed tobacco in the form of breath mints, toothpicks and strips that dissolve in the mouth, or snus, a little pouch of tobacco that is placed against the gum. Just pop it and go. The packaging is smaller than a regular pack of cigarettes, can be used anytime, and could be used by your students as they sit in your class. It may be cheaper than a pack of cigarettes because the state may not recognize it as a tobacco product and therefore not tax it in the same way. A cheap way to get kids hooked on nicotine and became lifetime users.
These smokeless tobacco products are considered less dangerous than inhaling the tars and other chemicals in cigarettes, but they still contain nicotine. Per milligram, nicotine is the most addictive substance known to man, more addictive than cocaine or heroin. Cigarettes contain 8 to 14 milligrams of nicotine, of which 0.5 to 2.5 milligrams are absorbed. Snus has about 6 milligrams of nicotine to absorb; strips, orbs and sticks have between 0.6 milligrams and 3.1 milligrams. The longer the snus packet is held in the mouth, the more nicotine is absorbed. It still contains cancer-causing nitrosamines, although lower than cigarettes. These products also increase the users risk for heart disease and oral cancers.
Many students don’t know the facts about tobacco use. The Florida Statewide Tobacco Prevention and Intervention Teacher Training Course is an online course designed for teachers and counselors to learn the facts and provide students with the knowledge for them to make informed decisions. You may also be able to receive up to 60 teacher in-service credits as approved by your district.