Operation Tobacco Free (OTF) ambassadors are public figures and prominent community members committed to preventing some 535,000 kids age 12-17 from trying smokeless tobacco for the first time each year in the US.
“Our goal is to help kids understand why it’s not hip to dip,” says Brent Agin, MD, CEO and Founder of TeaZa® energy.“We have been reaching out to individuals in the public eye to help us get the word out about the campaign and the response has been overwhelming!”
Dr. Agin shares his enthusiasm about educating youth and smokeless tobacco users about the harms of smokeless tobacco use with OTF ambassadors is an integral part of OTF’s mission is to end smokeless tobacco use in the US.
Tobacco in any form is harmful, including cigarettes, cigars, spit tobacco and any other product containing nicotine. All tobacco products, including smokeless tobacco, contain nicotine which is highly addictive. Chew contains at least 28 chemicals known to cause cancer and up to twice the amount of nicotine as a cigarette. Smokeless tobacco use can cause oral lesions, oral cancer, esophageal cancer, pancreatic cancer, heart disease, gum disease, and death.
“A lot of kids are introduced to dipping in youth sports, especially baseball. They don’t understand how addictive it is or how much damage they are going to do to their health when they start. We want to help change that mindset in youth sports,”
Dr. Agin said. Some research indicates as many as 50% of high school athletes use smokeless tobacco on the baseball field at the JV and varsity level.⁹
The first member of the OTF Hall of Fame—who is no stranger to the major leagues—will be announced late in October, just in time for the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smoke Out. Stay tuned! In the meantime, take the OTF Pledge to be tobacco-free!