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Smokeless Tobacco

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While tobacco use is the most preventable cause of death in the United States, more than 400,000 people die prematurely each year because of tobacco use. If you have thought about using smokeless tobacco or any other tobacco product, think again. Any tobacco use is dangerous and unhealthy, especially for teenagers.

Q. How Can I Quit Using Smokeless Tobacco?

A. Just like any other tobacco product, chewing tobacco or snuff can be hard to quit. Only 6% of tobacco users are able to stop for more than a month. Many people try to quit over and over again. Don't despair! There are ways to help you stop. Nicotine replacement, behavioral therapy, and prescription medicines are proven to help tobacco users quit.

Nicotine gum, patches, inhalers, and lozenges are all different kinds of nicotine replacement. They work by giving you nicotine without having to use chewing tobacco or snuff. Even though they contain nicotine, they do not have all the cancer-causing chemicals as chewing tobacco and snuff. They can also help you quit by reducing cravings and discomfort. The nicotine patch has been specifically shown to work. If you are under 18, you need to get your doctor's or parent's permission to use nicotine replacements.

Behavioral therapy consists of visiting a therapist who will help you find the best strategy to quit. He or she will help you come up with ways to get through strong cravings and provide emotional support when you need it.

Some medicines, including bupropion SR (Zyban and Wellbutrin SR) and Varenicline tartrate (Chantix), are formulated to help people quit using tobacco. Patients should tell their doctor about any history of psychiatric illness prior to starting Chantix. Chantix may cause worsening of a current psychiatric illness even if it is currently under control and may cause an old psychiatric illness to reoccur. Your doctor must prescribe these medications.

Q. What Do I Say If Somebody Offers Me Some Chewing Tobacco or Snuff?

A. Saying no to a friend is really hard. But if a friend offers you a "dip," just tell them "No thanks." Even if they seem upset, they probably won't stay upset for long. They may even respect you more. Choosing not to use smokeless tobacco is all about YOU. It's better for your teeth, gums, and breath; helps prevent cancer of your mouth, throat, and esophagus; and is a very wise decision for your overall health.

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Reviewed on May 09, 2008

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