During my almost 30 years of being involved with chewing cessation education, chewers have given a multitude of reasons for wanting to stop chewing. Many needed to stop for medical purposes. This isn’t surprising considering that over 400,000 Americans die every year from diseases caused by tobacco. Among the more common ailments directly caused by chewing are: heart disease, cancers, strokes, peripheral vascular diseases, ulcers and others. In addition, treatment of preexisting conditions can be complicated by chewing. Risk of anesthesia and post-operative complications are increased by use of tobacco.
Social pressure is another major reason for quitting. Chewing is now viewed as smelly, offensive and disgusting by non-chewers as well as by many of the over 50 million ex-tobacco users in our country. While tobacco use was once thought to be sophisticated, people who chew today are scorned by many of their peers. Some chewers now feel that they appear lacking in self control and looked down upon for not having the intelligence to quit. Some wish to quit chewing to set a positive example for their children.
The expense of chewing is another major reason. Many remember saying, “If chew ever reaches $2.00 a can, I will quit!” Now chew is approaching triple that amount and these same people have continued to chew. A chewing couple can be motivated to quit when realizing they are spending in excess of $4,000 a year to maintain their addiction.
Many of my clinic participants have quit chewing previously for a substantial period of time and returned to chewing. When they were free from chew they felt healthier, calmer, and happier. But lack of understanding allowed them to tempt a dip. This resulted in reinforcement of their full fledged addiction. They come to the clinic ready to reestablish their lifestyle as an ex-chewer. While people come to us for a variety of reasons, most have one basic motivation in common. They need help to quit chewing. They know the dangers, hassles, and expense but still cannot stop.
Chewing tobacco is an addiction. It is imperative to remember that once you are an addict, you are always an addict. Once you are off chewing for a short period of time, staying off is relatively easy. You will have occasional thoughts for a chew, but they are nothing compared to the urges encountered from withdrawal during the early quitting process. But you must always keep in mind that one dip will put you back to a state of full fledged dependency. Then you will either have to go back to chewing or once again go through quitting. Those are both lousy options. Think of both of them whenever you consider taking a dip!
© Joel Spitzer 1982
The original article has been modified to be more relevant for dippers and chewers.