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Spit. Chew. Snuff.  All are names for smokeless tobacco products that are heavily marketed to our kids and have been shown to increase the risk of serious disease, including oral cancer.

 

Not a harmless alternative

One reason for the growth in the use of smokeless tobacco is the popular misconception that chewing tobacco is safer than smoking it.

 

Smokeless tobacco puts more nicotine into your bloodstream than cigarettes do.  This is one reason why people who chew or dip tobacco regularly may think that quitting smokeless tobacco is even harder than quitting cigarette smoking.

 

Chewing tobacco and the resulting juices may produce leukoplakia, which are white patches of oral tissue that can develop into oral cancer.

 

Smokeless tobacco users suffer higher rates of oral and pharyngeal (throat) cancers, gum diseases, and tooth loss than non-users.

 

Nicotine in the smokeless tobacco increases the heart rate and blood pressure and can lead to an irregular heartbeat. A rise in blood pressure may also increase the risk of strokes and heart attacks.

 

How to Quit

Tobacco users often say, “Don’t tell me why to quit, tell me how.” There is no one right way to quit, but there are some key elements in quitting successfully. These four factors are crucial:

  • Making the decision to quit
  • Setting a quit date and choosing a quit plan
  • Dealing with withdrawal
  • Staying quit (maintenance)

 

Making the Decision to Quit

The decision to quit tobacco use is on that only you can make. Others may want you to quit, but in order for you to get through the first few weeks without tobacco, the real commitment must come from you.

 

Setting a Quit Date and Deciding on a Plan

Once you’ve made a decision to quit, you’re ready to pick a quit date. This is a very important step. Here are some steps to help you prepare for your Quit Day:

  • Pick the date and mark it on your calendar.
  • Tell friends, family, and co-workers about your Quit Day, and let them know how they can help.
  • Stock up on oral substitutes – sunflower seeds, sugarless gum, carrot sticks, beef jerky, cinnamon sticks, and /or hard candy.
  • Decide on a plan. Will you use nicotine replacement therapy? Will you attend a class? PA Quitline counseling? f so, sign up now.
  • Consider seeing your doctor or dentist. Have them check your mouth, and discuss your plan for quitting with them.
  • Set up a support system.
  • Make a list of your “triggers” – situations, places, or emotions that make you more likely to chew or dip. Being aware of these can help you avoid them or at least be ready for them.

Dealing With Withdrawal

Withdrawal from nicotine has 2 parts – the physical and the psychological. The physical symptoms, while annoying, are not life threatening. If you choose to use nicotine replacement therapy, it can help reduce many of these physical symptoms. But most users find that the bigger challenge is the psychological part of quitting.

 

Staying Quit (Maintenance)

Staying quit is the final, and most important, stage of the process. You can use the same methods to stay quit as you did to help you through withdrawal.

Source: American Cancer Society Quitting Spit (Smokeless) Tobacco