If you dip, chew or use snuff, have you ever wondered what your life would look like without smokeless tobacco? You’d no longer need to worry about checking your teeth, and they’d likely be whiter.
You’d no longer have to be concerned that a loved one might accidentally drink from one of your spit cans. You could be sure that you’re modeling healthy behaviors for your kids. You could smile more often, more confidently. You could appreciate the extra money in your pocket. And, most of all, you would just feel better – both physically and emotionally.
Taking steps to leave tobacco behind may seem daunting. Stopping often takes more than one try. That’s normal and may even be helpful because small changes you make today can add up over time. VA has many ways to help Veterans along the way.
VA offers the best combination for long-term success: counseling to change behavior and break emotional ties. We also have medication, such as nicotine replacement therapies (like gum, patches and lozenges) to relieve the physical cravings that come with nicotine withdrawal.
30 compounds known to cause cancer
Learning the facts and the resources to help Veterans stop is a great place to start. Whether you’re chewing or dipping, all tobacco products are damaging to your health. Smokeless tobacco products contain roughly 2,000 chemical compounds, including 30 that are known to cause cancer.
The level of cancer-causing nitrosamines is up to 100 times higher in smokeless tobacco than in other tobacco products. On top of that, it contains more nicotine than cigarettes, which may cause an even stronger dependence.
This Great American Spit Out invites Veterans to think about how small changes today can greatly improve your quality of life – immediately and over the long term. Without dip or chew, you won’t experience the elevated heart rate and blood pressure associated with smokeless tobacco.
You will notice healthier teeth and gums, as well as improved senses of taste and smell.
That’s just the beginning. Living free of smokeless tobacco will also:
- Reduce the risk for cancer. Within a few years of quitting, the risk of throat, esophageal and pancreatic cancers will be greatly reduced.
- Improve oral health. Chewing tobacco increases the risk of oral cancer, gum disease, tooth loss, cavities and dental implant failure. Five years after someone stops using it, their risk of getting oral cancer is cut in half.
Better can start today
Every week, month and year without tobacco brings new opportunities to improve your quality of life. During the Great American Spit Out, Veterans can talk to their VA primary care or mental health provider about ending their relationship with smokeless tobacco. Learn about resources that can help them quit, including a guide and workbook to help Veterans evaluate their use of smokeless tobacco and explain what to expect if they decide to stop using it.
When Veterans are ready to explore a life free of tobacco, VA can help with cessation counseling and medications available at all VA medical centers.