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Your Oral Health

Spit Tobacco: A Guide for Quitting


So you're a dipper and you'd like to quit.

Maybe you've already found that quitting dip or chew is not easy. But you can do it! This guide is intended to help you make your own plan for quitting.

Many former dippers have shared advice on quitting that can help you. This guide is the result of advice from chewers and dippers who have canned the habit.

Like most dippers, you probably know that the health-related reasons to quit are awesome. But you must find your own personal reasons for quitting. They can motivate you more than the fear of health consequences. It's important to develop your own recipe for willpower.

In this guide we refer more to dip than chew, just to keep it simple. Also, note that we call it spit tobacco, not smokeless tobacco. Smokeless tobacco is the term preferred by the tobacco industry. It makes the products sound safe; they aren't.

The Dangers of Dip and Chew

Here's a brief summary of the harm dipping does.

  • Sugar in spit tobacco may cause decay in exposed tooth roots.
  • Dip and chew can cause your gums to pull away from the teeth in the place where the tobacco is held. The gums do not grow back.
  • Leathery white patches, called leukoplakia (loo-ko-play-kia), and red sores are common in dippers and chewers and can turn into cancer.
  • Mouth Cancer - among the toughest cancers to treat. Surgery needed to treat mouth cancer is often difficult and disfiguring. The disease can spread quickly. On average, only half of those with mouth cancer will survive more than five years.

Need more reasons to quit?

It's expensive!

A can of dip costs an average of nearly $3. A two-can-a-week habit costs about $300 per year. A can-a-day habit costs nearly $1,100 per year. Likewise, chewing tobacco costs about $2. A pouch-a-day habit costs over $700 a year. Think of all the things you could do with that money instead of dipping or chewing. It adds up.

It's disgusting!

If the health effects don't worry you, think of how other people see your addiction.

The smell of spit tobacco in your mouth is not pleasant. While you may have become used to the odor and don't mind it, others around you notice.

Check out your clothes. Do you have tobacco juice stains on your clothes, your furniture, or on your car's upholstery? Your tobacco spit and drool could be making a mess.

Look at your teeth. Are they stained from tobacco juice? Brushing your teeth won't make this go away.

Understanding Your Addiction

Hard to believe you're a nicotine addict?

Believe it.

Nicotine, found in all tobacco products, is a highly addictive drug that acts in the brain and throughout the body.

Dip and chew contain more nicotine than cigarettes.

Some facts:

Holding an average-size dip in your mouth for 30 minutes gives you as much nicotine as smoking three cigarettes. A 2-can-a-week snuff dipper gets as much nicotine as a 1-1/2 pack-a-day smoker does.

Below is a listing comparing the nicotine levels of some popular snuff brands. Think about your own habit. Check how many of the following apply to you

Nicotine Levels of Popular Brands - Highest to Lowest

  • Kodiak Wintergreen
  • Skoal Longcut Straight
  • Copenhagen Snuff
  • Copenhagen Long Cut
  • Skoal Bandits Mint
  • Hawken Wintergreen

* This list is provided for information only. NIDCR and NCI do not endorse the use of any tobacco product

How Addicted Are You?

  • I no longer get sick or dizzy when I dip or chew, like I did when I first started.
  • I dip more often and in different settings.
  • I've switched to stronger products, with more nicotine.
  • I swallow juice from my tobacco on a regular basis.
  • I sometimes sleep with dip or chew in my mouth.
  • I take my first dip or chew first thing in the morning.
  • I find it hard to go more than a few hours without dip or chew.
  • I have strong cravings when I go without dip or chew.

The more items you check, the more likely that you are addicted.

Myths and Truths

There are several myths about spit tobacco.

Sometimes these myths make users feel more comfortable in their habits. Below are some myths and the truths that relate to them.

Myth: Spit tobacco is a harmless alternative to smoking.

Truth: Spit tobacco is still tobacco. In tobacco are nitrosamines, cancer-causing chemicals from the curing process. Note the warnings on the cans.

Myth: Dip (or chew) improves my athletic performance.

Truth: A study of professional bas