Can Smokeless Tobacco Help Me Quit Smoking?
Smokeless tobacco is often perceived as a “safe” way to quit smoking. Dip advertisers tout their products as a socially acceptable alternative to smoking, as they can be used in public venues without harming other people through second-hand smoke.
However, there’s nothing safe about the twenty-eight deadly carcinogens found in dip and snuff. Even though smokeless tobacco doesn’t lead directly to lung cancer, these products can cause oral cancer, esophageal cancer, liver cancer, and pancreatic cancer. Imagine having to have radiation treatments on your mouth! You would eventually lose all sense of taste and smell. The scarring on your tongue and throat from cancer therapies make it nearly impossible to swallow, though you’ll be producing saliva at a higher rate. You’ll be needing a spit cup, but for completely different reasons than when you were dipping.
In addition to cancer, smokeless tobacco causes severe oral issues, including leukoplakia—white or grey sores that may need to biopsied to determine if they are cancerous. Tooth decay, gum disease, bone erosion, and bad breath are also associated with the use of dip. Quitting dip will eventually save you hundreds of dollars and hours of time in the dentist’s chair.
The myth that dip can help you stop smoking and alleviate nicotine dependency couldn’t be further from the truth. Actually, smokeless tobacco is three to four times more addictive than cigarettes. These products are made to remain in your bloodstream for longer than cigarettes, so your reliance on dip becomes even stronger.
Annually, 400,000 Americans switch to smokeless tobacco from cigarettes, thinking it will help them quit. But over 90% of these individuals never stop smoking. In the end, they merely combine their cigarette use with the use of dip or snuff. This doubles their nicotine intake, as well as the number of carcinogens being ingested!
Based on government studies, smokeless tobacco lowers neither your dependency on nicotine nor your desire to dip. Instead, it appears that the vast majority of those who use dip actually become more dependent on nicotine than those who don’t.
Smokeless Tobacco Alternatives
If you’ve already started dipping, don’t worry! There are several proven ways to stop your addiction before it is too late. Guarding yourself with knowledge about the dangers of smokeless tobacco and the best methods of quitting is the first step to a successful, healthy, nicotine-free lifestyle.
Nicotine Replacement Therapies (NRTs) are available in both prescription and over the counter forms. These pills, patches, and gums help with the craving for nicotine. However, some studies suggest that NRTs are more effective for smokers than for smokeless tobacco users. In fact, there are no NRTs available specifically for dip users.
Often, NRTs fail dip users because they do nothing to replace the sensation of chewing and spitting. While they do help with the physical side effects of nicotine withdrawal, they can’t help the psychological desire to dip.
Targeted for users of smokeless tobacco specifically, alternative dips are available. These herbal chews mimic the taste, consistency, and “spitability” of tobacco dips without the dangerous side effects. These products are made from all-natural ingredients such as tea, kudzu, and mint, which help with the nervous energy associated with nicotine cessation. Some brands, including Bacc Off®, include a line of products that have an “energizing” sensation similar to nicotine, but without the carcinogens.
Quitting smokeless tobacco isn’t easy. But arming yourself with knowledge, determination, and the most effective dip alternatives will greatly increase your success rate, leading to a happier, healthier you!
John O. Ebbert, et. al. “Treating Spit Tobacco Dependence.” (2006)
“Topics in Brief: Smokeless Tobacco,” National Institute of Drug Abuse.