ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. -- Most people would probably agree that in addition to the potential long lasting negative health effects associated with tobacco use, there aren’t many fans of the visual collateral damage associated with smokeless tobacco products. Cups, empty bottles, sidewalks or even the great outdoors are never improved by the addition of the byproduct of dip, snuff, chew or snus – spit. This Feb. 24 is your opportunity to get that tobacco out of your system for good as part of the Great American Spit-Out, or GASpO.
Some individuals may be wondering if tobacco use is an issue that affects the Army.
According to the 2020 Health of the Force, an annual report produced by the Army Public Health Center documenting conditions that influence the health and medical readiness of the active-duty Army, while 17 percent of Soldiers reported using smoking products, excluding e-cigarettes, 13 percent reported using smokeless tobacco products – this is nearly double the use found in the civilian U.S. population.
Because the tobacco is not smoked, many Soldiers may view smokeless tobacco as being safer than smoking. This is a false mindset given that smokeless tobacco contains more nicotine, the highly addictive chemical in tobacco products, than cigarettes. Dipping and other smokeless tobacco behaviors are as addictive as smoking.
Soldiers cite a variety of reasons for using smokeless tobacco, including the belief it may help them stay alert on duty. Others believe that it helps with stress. Despite these perceived positives, according to a 2009 report by the Institute of Medicine Committee on Smoking Cessation in Military and Veteran Populations, the physical cost of smokeless tobacco is heavy as it is directly linked to oral and pancreatic cancer, periodontal disease, and may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
If you have reached the point where the not-so-good things about smokeless tobacco outweigh the good, then consider taking the GASpO pledge Feb. 24 to go tobacco-free for 24 hours.
Quitting smokeless tobacco is not easy and there is no one-size-fits-all way to quit, but there are a few steps to help make the decision to quit successful:
- Make a plan for quitting.
- Write down your reasons for quitting and keep it with you at all times.
- Mark your calendar with the GASpO date so that you do not miss it. If you do, understand that any day is a good day to quit.
- Talk to your healthcare provider about tobacco cessation counseling, nicotine replacement therapy and other medications. Use the Community Resource Guide to locate health providers in your community.
- The CRG can also be used to locate behavioral health providers to address issues such as stress and anxiety.
- Enlist Battle Buddies, family and friends for support.
- Change your playmates and playgrounds by staying away from others that insist on using tobacco products around you. Avoid sabotaging your quit efforts by going to designated tobacco use areas.
- Replace smokeless tobacco with healthy alternatives such as sugarless gum and sunflower seeds.
Check out these resources to help you quit smokeless tobacco:
- Army Public Health Center Tobacco-Free Living & Vaping website
- YouCanQuit2 has information on quit plans and 24/7 live chat and text messaging services.
- Try Dipfree TXT, a texting program specifically for those who use smokeless tobacco.
This Feb. 24, take the GASpO pledge, quit the dip, and start down the path to a healthy and ready you.
The Army Public Health Center focuses on promoting healthy people, communities, animals and workplaces through the prevention of disease, injury and disability of Soldiers, military retirees, their families, veterans, Army civilian employees, and animals through population-based monitoring, investigations, and technical consultations.