Chewing tobacco is less lethal than cigarettes, but it’s not a safe alternative to smoking, according to the American Cancer Society. Using chewing tobacco regularly can cause certain types of cancer, including cancer of the mouth, throat, cheek, gums, lips and tongue. Prolonged use of chewing tobacco can also cause cavities, heart disease, gum disease and lesions inside your mouth. Quitting now greatly reduces your risk of developing chewing-tobacco-related health problems.
Find a Substitute
Oral fixation is a common problem for many tobacco users who are trying to quit. Unlike cigarette smokers, chewing-tobacco users are used to having something in their mouths for a longer period of time. The doctors of Mayo Clinic recommend substituting sugar-free gum or hard candy for chewing tobacco when cravings strike. Eating healthy foods like celery, baby carrots, mixed nuts or sunflower seeds may help fight cravings as well.
Nicotine withdrawal is one of the main reasons many tobacco users have trouble quitting. Nicotine replacement therapy can help. Common forms of nicotine replacement therapy include nicotine gum, patches and lozenges, all of which are available as over-the-counter tobacco cessation tools. If you have a strong oral fixation, nicotine gum may be the best replacement. Nicotine gum, patches and lozenges have not been approved by the FDA specifically to help people quit using smokeless tobacco, but they can still be useful to help you reduce cravings and quit, according to the American Cancer Society.
Just 30 minutes of moderately intense physical activity is enough to make a nicotine craving go away, according to the Mayo Clinic website. Go jogging, take your dog for a walk or play tennis with a friend. If a craving hits while you’re at work, try running up the stairs for a few minutes or doing calisthenics in your office.
When a nicotine craving strikes, simply distracting yourself for 10 minutes. Just put the craving out of your mind by doing something that takes your mind off chewing tobacco. If you’re at home, fix something that needs fixing or straighten up. If you’re at work, take care of a task you’ve been avoiding. You may forget about the craving altogether.
Join a Support Group
Support groups can be beneficial for oral tobacco users looking to quit. Some support groups are set up as educational classes that help tobacco users understand the risk of using tobacco, why quitting is important and what they can do to stop cravings. Other groups are set up so members can talk to each other and share their experiences. If you can’t attend a support group in person, there are online and telephone support groups you can join.
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