Have you heard about the Great American Spit Out? It's this event that happens every year in February. What's it all about? Well, it's a chance to shine a light on the dangers of smokeless tobacco and to help folks kick the habit.

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First off, let's talk about what smokeless tobacco actually is. It's not just chewing tobacco; it also includes things like snuff, dip, and those dissolvable tobacco products. And guess what? It's just as addictive as smoking cigarettes and packs a bunch of the same harmful chemicals.

So, why should we care about GASO? Well, smokeless tobacco is no joke when it comes to your health. It can lead to some serious stuff like cancer, heart disease, and strokes. GASO is our opportunity to spread the word about these risks and give folks a nudge to quit.

Now, let's talk about North Dakota. While smokeless tobacco use has been on the decline across the US, North Dakota still has a bit of a higher rate compared to other places. Back in 2009, about 15.3% of high school students in North Dakota were using smokeless tobacco. Yikes, right? But by 2019, that number had dropped to 4.5%, which is better but still a tad higher than the national average.

For adults in North Dakota, about 6.4% reported using smokeless tobacco in 2020, which is pretty close to the national average. And while we don't have the most recent data on high school students, it seems like the trend is heading in the right direction.

Why the higher rates in North Dakota, you ask? Well, it's a mix of things. The rural culture here means traditional tobacco use, like chewing tobacco, might be more common. Plus, economic factors play a role, with lower-income communities often seeing higher tobacco use. And let's not forget about the significant Native American population here, who historically have had higher rates of smokeless tobacco use.

But no matter where you are, it's important to know that chewing tobacco is seriously addictive and can mess with your health big time. Even though it's not as popular as it used to be, we've still got work to do to kick this habit to the curb.

Now, you might be wondering how you can get in on the action. There are plenty of ways to participate! You can take the pledge to ditch the dip for 24 hours, tell your friends and family about GASO, donate to organizations that help people quit tobacco, or even join in on events happening in your community.

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