“I started smoking when I was 18 years old. I switched to chewing when i began working at the Wrangell Mill because smoke breaks were limited. I got my nicotine fix from chew.
“Most of my co-workers chewed, too. I had a friend who ended up with a hole in the front of his bottom lip from chewing. I sometimes developeda white area in my lip, like a cold sore. In the late 1970’s I began hearing how chewing causes cancer. I decided to quit because my wife was pressuring me, I had four wonderful boys to look after, and I didn’t want to end up with cancer.
“For me it was harder to quit chewing than it was to stop smoking. I chewed daily for 12 years. It was a habit and I was addicted. I quit in 1980 but it was tough for about a year. I was grumpy and my mouth watered every time I saw a can of chew. Back then, there was no assistance like there is now to quit. I had to do it cold turkey. I kept my mind and body busy by hunting, fishing, and camping with my four boys and my wife. Keeping busy helped me ignore the cravings.
“I think it’s great that people have the Alaska Tobacco Quit Line to call for assistance with quitting. I encourage people to quit the nasty habit of chewing, and am proud to say none of my boys smoke or chew.
“As my children were growing up I always told them ‘Never try it and you’ll never miss it!”
Smokeless tobacco can cause white or gray patches inside the mouth (leukoplakia) that can lead to cancer. Chewing tobacco can cause gum disease, tooth decay, and tooth loss as well as heart disease and high blood pressure.
Smokeless tobacco contains at least 30 cancer-causing chemicals. Using any kind of spit or smokeless tobacco is a major health risk and is NOT a safe alternative to smoking cigarettes.
While quitting is hard, you don’t have to do it alone. Alaska’s Tobacco Quit Line encourages you to make the step toward a tobacco-free life with its FREE support services.