Tobacco Education

The Cancer Center of Santa Barbara has been offering a variety of anti-tobacco programs at no charge to local schools, community colleges, and several baseball organizations since 2000. We have focused our education efforts mostly on children, in order to attempt to plant healthy habits and change behaviors.Ninety percent of smokers start before the age of 18. If we are truly aiming to prevent cancer, it makes sense to start with our youth.

The program started in 2000 with activities directed toward educating local youth on the dangers of spitting tobacco and has more recently focused on the dangers of second hand smoke.

Along with the Cancer Center of Santa Barbara, these programs have been sponsored by Oral Health America and the Tobacco Prevention Settlement Program of Santa Barbara County.

Anti Chew Tobacco Lectures

In 2000 the Cancer Center of Santa Barbara entered into a partnership with Oral Health America to teach local youth about the dangers of smokeless tobacco through NSTEP – the National Spit Tobacco Education Program. The goal of the program is to make current and potential users of spit tobacco aware that chewing tobacco is not a safe alternative to smoking and can lead to oral cancer. Doug Harvey, a former major league umpire treated at the Cancer Center for oral cancer due to smokeless tobacco usage, was the program’s featured spokesperson from 2001 through 2006.

Although today there are still more cigarette smokers than spit tobacco users, the rates of spit tobacco use have shown a dramatic increase. Many tobacco companies have contributed to this trend by marketing spit tobacco as the “safe alternative to cigarettes.” But in reality, spit tobacco can cause serious oral health problems, including cancer. Its users are six times more likely than non-users to get cancers of the mouth and throat, and only about half of the people diagnosed with these cancers are alive after five years.

While spit tobacco use was previously associated with middle-aged to older men, usage by men ages 18-24 is now the highest of any group.

Anti Tobacco Murals

As a follow up to Doug Harvey’s anti-tobacco lectures the program expanded to create permanent murals on a number of school campuses. Beginning in 2001, mural artist MB Hanrahan has worked with four local schools to develop and create permanent reminders of the dangers associated with tobacco use. Local school involved include Dos Pueblos High School (2001), Carpentaria Middle School (2004), Santa Maria High School (2005), Fesler Junior High School (2007) and the Lompoc Boys and Girls Club (2007).

All of the anti-tobacco murals created are still being seen by students every day with their important message.

Santa Barbara Foresters Baseball

The Cancer Center of Santa Barbara was involved during 2002-2005 to arrange anti-tobacco presentations at a Santa Barbara Foresters game with Doug Harvey, a former major league umpire treated at the Cancer Center for oral cancer due to smokeless tobacco usage.

Efforts were made to include baseball players, coaches and the spectators. Through sponsorship of the game, the Cancer Center was able to insert an ad in the program which focused on the dangers of tobacco use. Anti-chew literature and other educational materials were distributed to all those in attendance. This allowed Mr. Harvey’s message to be shared with a broader section of our community.

Sunflower Seed Sundays

The Cancer Center of Santa Barbara sponsored Sunflower Seed Sundays during the years 2002 through 2005 at UCSB, Allan Hancock College, and the Santa Maria Indians baseball games. At each game an anti-tobacco banner was displayed and sunflower seed packets with an anti-tobacco message were distributed at no cost to attendees.