By Kathy Hanchek, Army Public Health Nursing Preventive Medicine February 19, 2013
Do you know of someone who uses spit tobacco and has talked about quitting? If so, the Great American Spit Out on Feb. 21 provides an opportunity to quit for a day or, hopefully, quit for good.
Many terms are used to describe smokeless tobacco products, such as chewing, dip or snuff. From the start, the tobacco companies have marketed smokeless tobacco as a safer alternative to smoking, but in fact this is not true.
Let's get the real truth behind smokeless tobacco.
Myth: Smokeless tobacco is a safe alternative to smoking.
Fact: Smokeless tobacco is not harmless. There are 28 cancer-causing chemicals in smokeless tobacco, and regular users are 50 times more likely to develop cancer of the cheek, gums and throat than nonusers. Many spit tobacco users get thick, leathery white patches in their mouth called leukoplakia or red sores that can cause cancer. Spit tobacco causes cavities and gum disease that can lead to bone and tooth loss.
Myth: A little dip or chew won't affect my performance on the job.
Fact: Nicotine adversely affects every major system in the human body. Nicotine impacts the ability to perform mission by reducing stamina, harming vision and slowing wound healing. Nicotine increases your heart rate and raises your blood pressure, and over a period of time it can lead to increased risk for heart attack or stroke.
Myth: Smokeless tobacco is not addicting.
Fact: Nicotine, the addictive agent in cigarette, is actually found in greater concentration in smokeless tobacco. On average, one can of snuff contains as much nicotine as three packs of cigarettes. The average habitual smokeless tobacco user will receive 130-250 mgs of nicotine per day compared with 180 mg for a person with a pack-a-day cigarette habit.
Myth: Smokeless tobacco is easy to give up -- you can quit any time you want.
Fact: The truth is that if you are hooked, it is not as easy to quit, but you can do it.
Here are some helpful tips to help you get prepared to "Ditch Dip for a Day":
w Write down your reasons to quit. The No. 1 reason to quit is for yourself. You can quit for your own physical health or to save money.
w Pick the date. The Great American Spit Out is a perfect time to quit because others will be quitting at the same time.
w Make a plan. Avoid triggers. Stay busy. Have chew substitutes on hand, such as sugar-free candy or gum, mints, cinnamon sticks or sunflower seeds.
w Cut back. Start tapering your usage. Try to cut down to half the amount before your quit date. Try to go as long as you can before giving into your cravings.
w Get a support system. Seek out family and friends to help support you through the day. Find someone to quit with you and support each other.
Try these quit tips on the Great American Spit Out Day or to use as part of a quit plan. The more you prepare for the quit day, the better your chances for success.
Ditch dip for a day
Army Public Health Nursing will sponsor health informational displays at the three dental clinics on post. The event will take place from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 21 at Marshall Dental Clinic, 10205 North Riva Ridge Loop; Stone Dental Clinic, 10590 Enduring Freedom Drive; and Clark Hall Dental Clinic, 10720 Mount Belvedere Blvd.
If you have a hard time quitting spit tobacco for the day, you may need some additional assistance to become tobacco-free for life. There is additional assistance available for you on Fort Drum.
Army Public Health Nursing offers Tobacco Use Cessation classes three times a month on Thursday from 9 to 11 a.m. This class is open to all active-duty and retired military and their Family Members and DOD civilians. To schedule for a class, simply call APHN at 772-6404.
After you attend the one-time, two-hour class, you will be scheduled to see the Preventive Medicine provider to discuss which medication will be best for you to help you quit and break your habits with tobacco. You will have monthly follow-up with the Tobacco Cessation nurse medication refills, and you will receive individual tobacco cessation counseling, based on your needs.
For questions or concerns about the Tobacco Cessation Program, call Kathy Hanchek, APHN Tobacco Cessation coordinator, at 772-3634.
For more information on quitting spit tobacco, visit:
* UCANQUIT2, www.ucanquit2.org
* My Last Dip, www.mylastdip.com
* National Cancer Institute, www.cancer.gov.