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How to Quit Chewing Tobacco

Four Parts:Deciding to QuitMaking a PlanQuitting and Dealing With WithdrawalStaying Tobacco-Free

Anyone who has ever tried to quit chewing knows that it is difficult. Doctors say that chewing tobacco is even more addictive than smoking. In fact, a person taking 8 to 10 chews a day consumes as much nicotine in one day as a person who smokes 30 to 40 cigarettes a day. Learn how to free yourself from tobacco by making a plan, getting through withdrawal, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Part 1
Deciding to Quit

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    Write down your reasons for quitting. What is your reason, or combination of reasons, for wanting to kick your chewing tobacco habit? Writing down the personal factors that are motivating you to make this change can help clarify your sense of purpose, which will come in handy down the road when you're struggling with the urge to start chewing again.
    • Be specific. Go beyond just writing "my wife asked me to quit." Write down the effect chewing tobacco has had on your relationship, and the fact that you want to be a strong, healthy presence in your kids' lives for a long time to come. make a list of all the reasons why you think quitting is a good idea.
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    • Write a happy ending to the story. After you think about the harm chewing tobacco has caused you and your reasons for wanting to quit, write about how your life will look when you've successfully kicked the habit. What positive changes will it bring to your life? List all of the ways, large and small, your life will be improved. Here are a few examples:
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      • You won't have to deal with tobacco stains on your teeth and clothes.
      • Your breath will smell better, and you'll be able to kiss your loved ones without brushing your teeth first.
      • Any sores inside your mouth will heal, and you'll be able to taste and enjoy food with more pleasure.
      • You'll never have to worry about finding a can or bottle to use for tobacco juice.
      • You won't have to duck out of meetings or gatherings to chew.
      • You'll save the money, time and energy required to keep up a tobacco habit.
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    Make a commitment. Quitting smokeless tobacco requires a deeply personal commitment to eliminating tobacco from your life. Starting with a firm sense of purpose is the only sure way to get through the mental and physical cravings that make quitting tobacco products so difficult. Your reason for quitting must be more important to you than feeling the pleasure of chewing tobacco. Here are some common reasons people quit chewing tobacco:
    • Health concerns. Using chewing tobacco leads to mouth, throat, esophageal, and stomach cancer, as well as other health concerns like increased risk of heart disease and stroke.[1] Sometimes it takes knowing someone else who has been affected by one of these diseases to come to grips with the enormity of the health damage tobacco products can cause.
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    • Noticeable physical side effects. Chewing tobacco can cause tooth loss, receding gums, brown or yellow teeth, and bad breath. After a certain point these visible and uncomfortable side effects may become bothersome enough to stimulate your drive to quit.
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    • Time and expense. Taking a dip and making sure you have somewhere to spit the juices can make little dents in your day and add up to a great inconvenience over time. Chewing tobacco can also be expensive. The time and expense eaten away by chewing tobacco aren't usually compelling enough reasons to quit on their own, but they may add to your sense of purpose.
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    • Relationship issues. Sometimes it's easier to quit for someone else than it is to do it for yourself. If your partner or children have been imploring you to quit, you may find that the idea of regaining your health for their sake is a worthwhile reason to go tobacco-free.
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Part 2
Making a Plan

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    Set a date. Having a concrete date in mind is important when you're quitting chewing tobacco. You could quit cold turkey, but the success rate is higher for people who have a plan in place instead. Picking a date gives you time to prepare yourself emotionally and physically for the tasking days to come.
    • Pick a date about a month away. This will give you time to get ready, but it's not so far off that you'll lose determination.
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    • Consider picking a date with special meaning to you. Many people pick their birthday (which won't work if it's too far away, of course), a holiday, or some other meaningful date. As the birthday or holiday approaches, the festivities surrounding it will have added poignancy since it's the day you'll be changing your life for the better.
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    • Make a firm commitment to quit on your chosen date, then mark it on your calendar and let anticipation build.
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    • Notify your family, friends, coworkers, and other important people in your life about your quit day. You'll need their encouragement and support as the day approaches.
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    Get outside support. Quitting chewing tobacco is definitely possible to do on your own, but it can help your chances of succeeding if you draw on outside resources to assist you. Doctors, therapists, and support groups are in place to help you get through this difficult process more easily.
    • Consider getting a prescription to help you quit. Varenicline and bupropion are prescription drugs that help people quit harmful habits over time. You could also get nicotine patches to help with the physical withdrawal symptoms. Talk to your doctor about whether taking one of these drugs is the right choice for you. Make an appointment well in advance of your quit date. If you decide to use a prescription, you'll have to start taking it one or two weeks before you quit.
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    • Talk to your dentist about your intention to quit. Your dentist will provide motivation by telling you about the changes your mouth will undergo once tobacco is no longer causing damage, and he or she might be able to point you toward helpful resources as well.
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    • Talk to a therapist. Discuss your feelings of anticipation, excitement and fear with someone who can help you sort through the emotions that come with making such a big life decision. A therapist can also help you put a plan in place for dealing with withdrawal, which is as difficult emotionally as it is physically.
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    • Join a support group. Nicotine Anonymous and other support groups give you the chance to talk about what you're going through with people who have been there. Consider joining one in your area, or meet with friends who have quit chewing tobacco and are willing to share their experience with you.
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    Start ramping down your tobacco use. The less nicotine that's in your system on your quit day, the better, because you'll be used to chewing less and dealing with cravings. You chew less tobacco the day you decide to quit, and continue decreasing the amount you chew as quit day approaches.
    • Try chewing half or one-third the amount that you currently chew. When you feel a craving, wait as long as possible before chewing.
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    • Decide not to chew in certain settings. For example, if you're going to see your child perform in a school play, leave your chew at home for those few hours.
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    Figure out what your triggers are. Are there certain people, places or events that make your cravings for chewing tobacco more intense? Everyone has triggers that cause us to fall back on bad habits. Naming them and eliminating them from your life will go a long way toward helping you stop chewing tobacco.
    • If there are certain people with whom you normally chew tobacco, let them know you are quitting, and that you'd appreciate if they didn't chew around you anymore. If they can't or won't stop, you'll have to avoid spending time with them while you're trying to quit, and maybe for a long time to come.
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    • Maybe the smell of a bonfire or the sound of a bat cracking a baseball makes you want to have a chew. As much as you might love familiar smells and sounds that you associate with the pleasurable feeling of chewing tobacco, you'll have to avoid them until you know they won't trigger a relapse.
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    • Some triggers can't be avoided. Stress, fear, and other internal triggers are part of daily life. Just knowing that these feelings can act as triggers can help, because you'll have a plan in place for facing them head-on.
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    Prepare your home, workplace and car for quit day. When quit day draws near, take measures to make sure the spaces you occupy on a daily basis are free of temptations. This important step can make a big difference during the first week or two after you quit.
    • Throw away all traces of tobacco. Don't save half-empty cans or any type of memorabilia that could entice you to chew "just one more time." Throw it all away and make sure the trash gets collected before the sun comes up on quit day.
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    • Replace tobacco-stained or scented clothing and other items. Give yourself a fresh start with new shirts, sheets, and other items that typically take on the smell of tobacco.
    • Stock up on chew alternatives. Many find that having something else to chew helps quell withdrawal cravings. Fill your pantry with items like chewing gum, beef or turkey jerky, fruit chews, or fake chew.[2]
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Part 3
Quitting and Dealing With Withdrawal

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    Don't chew tobacco. When quit day has finally come, that's it. Your cravings will be intense, but chewing tobacco, or ingesting it in any other form, isn't an option. Stay true to your commitment to end your dependency on tobacco today.
    • Reach for your chew alternatives when you feel the urge to have something your mouth.
    • Eat as much as you want. Trying to diet and quit tobacco at the same time is too difficult; you can always cut back on calories after your habit is under control.
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    • Stay active. Working, running errands, and exercising can help distract your mind and body from cravings.
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    Stay away from your triggers. Avoid spending time with people who chew tobacco, and stay away from places or events where you used to enjoy chewing tobacco. It's important, especially during the first few weeks, to protect yourself from these pitfalls.
    • Using alcohol often leads people to fall back on tobacco use. Avoid drinking, especially during the first few weeks after quit day.
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    • Start new habits. Everyday activities like watching TV or driving to work may be linked to your desire to chew tobacco. Simple changes like watching TV in a different room or taking a different route to work can take your mind off of chewing tobacco.
    • If you feel your resolve weaken as a result of an internal trigger, like stress, call a help line, a member of your support group, or your therapist.
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    Take control of your thoughts. Many say that the mental addiction to tobacco is tougher to defeat than the physical addiction. You many find that in the first few days and weeks of quitting, your personality seems to have changed. You're experiencing what every former user experiences: withdrawal. Take control in the following ways:
    • Don't give in to rationalizations. Recognize these harmful thoughts for what they are, and have a plan for getting past them. For example, if you think to yourself, "What's the harm in chewing just one more time?" recognize that the thought is not based on reality, grab a chew replacement, and go for a bike ride.
      • Other rationalizations include, "You have to die of something," "It's a free country," "I'm going to enjoy my life to the fullest," and so on.[3]
    • Get alone time when you need it. Quitting tobacco may make you extremely short-tempered with your family, friends and coworkers. When you feel yourself heating up during a conversation, politely excuse yourself. If you don't think you can get through a party without being short with someone, avoid it. People will understand, and in a few weeks you'll be back to your regular self.
    • When you're having a hard time, read the statement you wrote describing your reasons for quitting. Remember what a good decision this is, and how much it will pay off in the end.

Part 4
Staying Tobacco-Free

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    Keep up the good habits. After two or three weeks, the intense cravings will subside, but that doesn't mean it will be easy to remain tobacco-free. You'll have to continue dealing with triggers rationalizing thoughts. Use the methods that worked to get you through the initial hump, and ditch the ones that didn't help.
    • If you found that exercising helped, consider joining a gym, joining a team, or signing up for a race. Fill up your days with a good habit that takes the time, money and energy you previously would have spent on chewing tobacco.
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    • You may find that eventually you don't need to chew gum or another chew replacement, but if you continue enjoying the feeling of chewing, keep doing it. Some people worry about gaining weight when they quit tobacco, so if this is a concern for you, consider chewing sugar-free gum, carrot sticks or another healthy substitute.
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    Celebrate victories. Set milestones - two weeks tobacco-free, two months tobacco-free - and celebrate each one. Use the money you saved on chewing tobacco to buy yourself a reward, take a trip, or take a loved one out to dinner. Quitting tobacco is hard work, and you deserve to feel amazing!
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    Don't let a slip turn into a relapse. Slipping, or giving in to the impulse to chew just one time, is a common occurrence for former tobacco users. If you slip, assess why it happened and make sure you're prepared to face down the trigger or rationalizing thoughts that caused you to turn to chewing tobacco. The important thing is to make sure the slip doesn't turn into a relapse to your former daily chewing tobacco habit.
    • Take slips seriously. Call your therapist or support group to talk through what happened. Write down your thoughts and remind yourself why quitting chewing tobacco is important.
    • If you relapse, go back to the beginning. Think about what worked and what didn't, and try again. With a strong purpose and a solid plan, eventually you'll be able to kick this habit for good.


  • Some people like to find a good flavor of tea, rip the bag open, and use tea leaves instead of chew.
  • Suckers and lollipops can be substituted for chewing tobacco, especially Tootsie Pops, since you can hold them in your cheek much as you would your chew.
  • Take a piece of tissue and pour mouthwash over it. Put in lip like a chew. It eliminates the oral fixation and plus you can spit.
  • Try chewing tea leaves and using nicotine lozenges at first. Then move on to just using tea.
  • It is much easier to write an article like this than it is to give up an addiction involving a chemical dependency, but people do quit tobacco, and with will power and determination, you can too.

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