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Chewing Tobacco Is Flavoured Poison

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

You'll never convince Gruen Von Behrens chewing tobacco is "cool." At age 13, Von Behrens tried his first wad of chew tobacco; by age 17 his face was disfigured by oral cancer.

Now the 28-year-old travels the country on behalf of the National Spit Tobacco Education Program (NSTEP) telling young people just how "uncool" chew tobacco really is.

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"If I had known then what I know now, I never would have put a dip in my mouth. Chew tobacco seemed harmless, but it has ruined my life," says Gruen.

Von Behrens visited two Lambton County schools - Lambton Central Collegiate and Vocational Institute (LCCVI), Petrolia and St. Patrick's High School, Sarnia - to persuade youth to shun tobacco, particularly chew tobacco.

Cathy Powell, Health Promotion Officer with County of Lambton Community Health Services Department, says "It does not matter whether it is smoked or chewed, nicotine is addicting. Gruen's talk is part of our awareness campaign to promote the Killer Facts about Chewing Tobacco brochure developed by Healthy Living Lambton and the Council for a Tobacco Free Lambton."

STATIC (Sarnia Teens Against Tobacco Industry Control) members from both high schools and local athletes are taking a lead role. At St. Pat's, Jordan Hill, graduate and Sarnia Sting Jr. A hockey player, and his sister Elyse, a St. Pat's student and STATIC member will introduce Von Behrens; Krista Campbell, student and STATIC member and Chase Clark, graduate and Sarnia Legionnaires Jr. B hockey player will introduce Von Behrens at LCCVI.