To begin, there is absolutely no safe form of tobacco. In fact, over 28 chemicals in smokeless tobacco have been found to cause different types of cancer including: oral, esophageal, and pancreatic (International Agency for Research on Cancer, 2007). Along with cancer, smokeless tobacco can cause other diseases such as heart disease, gum disease, and leukoplakia (white patches in the mouth that are pre-cancerous) (International Agency for Research on Cancer, 2007). If this is not enough to change your mind, consider the addictive power of nicotine. Nicotine stays in the blood longer for smokeless tobacco users than for smokers (National Cancer Institute, 2002).
Quitting smokeless tobacco is not an easy task, but it is one that may save your life. If you are in the beginning stages and unsure of what to do, try the National Cancer Institute’s Smoking Quitline (1-877-44U-QUIT) and speak to a cessation counselor about quitting smokeless tobacco use, or use the LiveHelp online chat which can be done through online texting. Both are completely confidential. Making a list of reasons to quit can also be helpful, along with setting a quit date. Get yourself ready and mentally psyched to follow through. Cutting back in the weeks before your quit date can be helpful. Try chewing on sunflower seeds, hard candies, or sugar-free gum when feeling the urge to chew. Before you reach your quit day, build up your support team. Let your family, friends, and coworkers know that you are quitting so they can continue to encourage you and give you support when you need it most. Celebrate your success. Make sure to celebrate each week, month, year, etc. without smokeless tobacco.