By Dawn Whiting, Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center, Health Promotion and Wellness
The thought of quitting smokeless tobacco forever might be overwhelming, but could you give it up for just 24 hours? Sign up to participate in the Great American Spit-Out (GASpO), taking place on Feb. 21st, 2013, and pledge to go tobacco-free for one day. The support and resources that are available make the GASpO a great time to start your effort to quit. Many other people will be participating, and your command may have events throughout the day to help you stay motivated. One day could jump start a lifetime of healthier living!
Why quit spit tobacco?
There are many reasons to stop using spit (also known as smokeless) tobacco. Here are just a few:
- Smokeless tobacco IS NOT a safe alternative to smoking. It is just as addicting; containing more nicotine than cigarettes, and it has at least 28 cancer causing substances. Smokeless tobacco leads to serious health risks, including cancer of the mouth, tongue, throat and pancreas, gum disease, tooth decay and heart disease.1
- Quitting can save you money! Use this cost savings calculator to determine how much you could save by quitting smokeless tobacco and begin to imagine all the ways you could spend your extra cash.
- Your significant other will no longer think kissing you is gross.
- Brighter teeth and fresher breath.
- Improved readiness. Among many other benefits, you will be faster and have better endurance thanks to your increased lung capacity, experience less injuries and illness, and have improved night vision.
Tips for quitting:
- Make a plan for quitting – the more detailed the better. Helpful things to include are:
- Write down your reasons for quitting and keep them with you at all times! Consider keeping them in the pocket in which you used to keep your can of tobacco.
- Choose a date and work backwards to get your start date. It is recommended that you begin to taper your tobacco use two to four weeks prior to your tobacco-free date.
- Identify what triggers your tobacco use and how you will cope when the craving hits.
- Enlist the help of your family and friends for support.
- Try replacing smokeless tobacco with a healthy alternative, such as sunflower seeds, beef jerky, toothpicks or sugar-free candy.
- Change up your routine. If you usually dip or chew in the car on the way to work, take a different route or ask a friend to carpool.
Where can I get help quitting?
Although quitting tobacco is never easy, there are lots of resources available to help:
- Visit the Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center Tobacco Free Living website.
- Contact your command tobacco cessation program manager for information on individual or group tobacco cessation counseling, or find self-paced support online.
- Contact your healthcare provider or command tobacco cessation facilitator if you are interested in learning more about nicotine replacement therapy or tobacco cessation medication aids.
- Talk to your dentist about local tobacco cessation resources.
- Check out the UCanQuit2 website to determine if you are addicted to tobacco, develop a quit plan, find games to help you through the cravings, and get 24/7 support.
- Go to Smokefree.gov to talk to an expert, find quit guides and sign up for text messaging support.
- Call your TRICARE regional quit line. All non-Medicare-eligible beneficiaries can receive assistance with smoking cessation through the TRICARE® toll-free Smoking Quitline, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including weekends and holidays.
- Call 1-800-QUITNOW to be connected to your state quit line. Each state offers various cessation services.
- National Cancer Institute. Smokeless tobacco and cancer. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Tobacco/smokeless. Accessed February 4th, 2013.