Dallas County made product supports “Through with Chew” campaign

Published 10:09 pm Wednesday, February 21, 2018

By Adam Dodson | The Selma Times-Journal

A local company dedicated to helping people quit chewing tobacco is continuing its initiative, all while the annual “through with the chew week” awareness campaign put on by the Alabama Department of Public Health continues strides to help residents stave off of harmful products.

Starting back in 1989, the tobacco prevention branch of the Alabama’s public health office puts on this week-long prevention initiative focused on smokeless tobacco, rather than cigarettes. The week is always the third week in February.

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Oftentimes, people forget about dipping and chewing tobacco when speaking about the harmful effects of tobacco products. However, this does not make smokeless products any safer than others.

“When people think about tobacco they tend to only think about cigarettes,” Julie Hare, public information director for ALDPH, said. “But smokeless does not mean harmless, and this week allows recognition for the negative aspects of chewing tobacco.”

Alabama is a state that has a long-standing history of tobacco use, both for smoking and smokeless products. This history is shown through the large number of people in the state that choose to use tobacco, with significantly higher usage numbers compared to the rest of the nation. According to the ALDPH, around eight percent of Alabama adults use chewing or dipping tobacco, over double the national average of 3.5 percent.

Leading the charge in the Black Belt to combat the high smokeless usage is Dipstop and their product Baccoff. Created by former tobacco user Russell Ralston alongside his family, Baccoff aimed to help individuals ween off of smokeless tobacco.

In order to accomplish this, the Ralstons conjured up a product they believed would be both effective and safe. Attempting to maintain the same look and texture of tobacco, Baccoff uses a black tea leaf base or a peppermint leaf base that allows users to continue their habits without actually using tobacco.

While nicotine addiction is tough to stop on its own, the habit is tough to stop as well. What happens often is some dippers use tobacco so much that they no longer get the buzz, but still crave the physical action of having a dip in their mouth.

According to Anna Ralston, Baccoff helps users break the psychological addiction of putting a dip or a chew in.

“Users can still enjoy the habit of dipping without the harmful effects of it. The oral fixation of putting in a dip is just as addicting,” Ralston said. “It is clinically proven to help with the stress from wanting a dip. It is 100 percent a psychological factor.”

The product is also beneficial for users who struggle to quit cold turkey and need to take the process slow, much like Mr. Ralston had to when creating this product back in 1990.

If a smokeless tobacco user is craving a dip, but is still working off the addiction, it is possible to mix Baccoff with the dip or chew, which allows them to still receive nicotine, but in smaller amounts. The goal with the mixing method is that ultimately Baccoff will take over as the the user’s preferred choice, rather than the harmful nicotine product.

It also could save users money, who could spend up to $5 to $20 a day depending on the intensity of their habit. In order to help individuals’ wallets, Bacoff costs less than three dollars per can, and is $2.79 for a roll of twelve cans.

Other help from both Dipstop and the ALDPH is available, such as with Dipstop’s seven-step process to quit dipping available on their website. Their process gives users a descriptive guideline to help ease them through the twists and turns that come with quitting tobacco.

Despite the one week dedicated towards the cause, the Alabama Department of Public Health’ tobacco prevention branch will continue their work beyond the designated five days. This includes working with the American Lung Society, the American Heart Society and the American Cancer Society, as well as reaching out to local communities for aid and information.

While the ALDPH continues their commitment to the people of the state, Hare understands that there is still work to do with tobacco awareness for Alabama residents, such as the constant struggle of competing with big tobacco companies.

“We still got a long way to go,” Hare said. “We are fighting against organizations that have plenty of money to throw at this.”

For more information on the Alabama Department of Public Health, visit their website at www.alabamapublichealth.com.

For more information on Dipstop, Bacoff or their goals, visit their website at www.dipstop.com.