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. Could smile more often, more confidently. 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 tobacco use 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 to using tobacco, plus medication, such as nicotine replacement therapies (like gum, patches and lozenges) to relieve the physical cravings that come with nicotine withdrawal.

Addition by subtraction

Learning the facts about smokeless tobacco 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, smokeless tobacco 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:

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, and 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.
  • Quit VET: Veterans can call 1-855-QUIT-VET (1-855-784-8838) to receive tobacco cessation counseling and get help building their plan to quit. Quitline counselors are available Monday through Friday, between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. Eastern time, to help Veterans prepare for potential challenges and avoid relapse.

Quitline counselors offer continued support through follow-up calls and counseling.

  • SmokefreeVET: For tools and tips to quit, Veterans can sign up for SmokefreeVET by texting VET to 47848. SmokefreeVET provides regular text messages as well as extra support at Veterans’ fingertips when they text the keywords URGE, STRESS or DIPPED to 47848.

Para inscribirse en SmokefreeVET en español, manda el texto VETesp al 47848.

When Veterans are ready to explore a life free of tobacco, VA can help with tobacco cessation counseling and medications available at all VA medical centers. To find the VA location closest to you, visit: https://www.va.gov/directory/guide/home.asp.

Kim Hamlett-Berry, Ph.D., is the national program director for Tobacco & Health: Policy and Programs, Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention.

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Published on Feb. 24, 2021

Estimated reading time is 3.3 min.

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