Alberta pitches new anti-chewing tobacco program
The Alberta government unveiled a plan Wednesday night to fight smokeless tobacco in the province where 40 per cent of Canada's chew is sold.
Health Minister Gary Mar and former National League umpire Doug Harvey threw out the first pitch and announced the new strategy at a baseball game featuring the Calgary Cannons of the Pacific Coast League.
Harvey became the spokesman for the U.S. National Spit Tobacco Education Program after doctors found cancerous growths in the back of his throat in 1997.
Harvey attributes the growths to his long-term chewing tobacco use.
The strategy teams up the U.S. program with the Cannons, who have agreed to go chew-free.
Alberta accounts for 40 per cent of Canada's spit and chew tobacco sales, but only nine per cent of the population, said Lloyd Carr of the Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission.
Carr called it a huge epidemic, saying chew is popular among athletes in hockey, baseball and rodeo circuits.
Carr said he hopes the program will help convince kids not to start using smokeless tobacco.
Because it's smokeless, spit tobacco isn't as visible or as criticized, Carr said.
Smokeless tobacco is dangerous to its users and contain 3,000 chemicals, 28 of them carcinogens, he said.