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How do I quit chewing tobacco?

Q: I have the bad habit of chewing tobacco. How do I stop that habit?

A:The use of any tobacco product has both immediate and long-term effects on your health and overall well-being. Smokeless tobacco stains and wears down your teeth, causes your gums to recede (peel back) and produces mouth sores. Bad breath is also a common problem. Over time, the use of smokeless tobacco can cause mouth cancer. Nicotine from smokeless tobacco also raises blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and can make it more likely that you will have a heart attack. It is important for you to have your own reasons for wanting to stop using smokeless tobacco. Set a date to quit and stick to it. Choose a date 1 to 2 weeks from today. Quitting can be hard, so develop a plan that works for you. Think ahead about times when you will want to chew or dip, and plan what you will do instead. Prepare yourself for quitting by identifying the times when you will want smokeless tobacco the most. Plan to avoid those situations or to have tobacco substitutes with you (such as chewing gum). Get rid of all your chewing tobacco. Start cutting down now on the amount you chew. Get support from your family, friends and doctor. Even better, have a friend or family member who uses smokeless tobacco stop chewing at the same time that you do. Studies have shown that people who have the support of family and friends are more successful at quitting. Find an oral substitute for smokeless tobacco that you enjoy. This may be non-tobacco mint, sugarless gum or hard candy or elaichi. Don't substitute cigarette smoking for smokeless tobacco. Stop using all tobacco products. Find activities to do when you want to chew. Many people chew when they are bored. Instead, take a walk or a quick jog, or just relax, or do any activity you enjoy that will keep your mind off smokeless tobacco.

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