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Snuff Out Tobacco During The Great American Spit Out on Feb. 19

by Military Health System on February 13, 2015
Despite media advertisements promoting
smokeless tobacco products as less
harmful than smoking tobacco products
(i.e., cigarettes), any form of obacco use
is dangerous and increases the users
susceptibility to oral cancers.


If you think smokeless tobacco is harmless, consider these facts.

Smokeless tobacco contains 3 to 4 times more addictive nicotine than cigarettes.
Smokeless tobacco causes oral cancer, one of the most deadly forms of cancer.
Smokeless tobacco use leads to tooth decay, mouth sores and gum disease for those who regularly chew, chaw, dip and spit.

That’s why the Defense Health Agency (DHA) wants to help you quit. Join The Great American Spit Out on Thursday, Feb. 19, when the military community comes together in spirit to “Ditch the Snuff for Better Stuff.” This year’s e-campaign asks you to imagine the better stuff you can enjoy when you save the money you spend on tobacco, such as a beach vacation this summer.

Even with all its negatives, chewing tobacco and snorting snuff are popular pastimes among military service members. More than 12 percent use smokeless tobacco compared to only 2 percent of civilians, according to the most recent “Health-Related Behavior Survey of Active Duty Military Personnel” published by the Department of Defense (DoD) in 2013.

There are several reasons military members favor smokeless tobacco, said Paul Fitzpatrick, manager of the DHA’s “Quit Tobacco” program. They can chew tobacco more privately without the tell-tale burn from cigarettes and use it in places where smoking is prohibited. “Some service members are dual users, depending on whether their situation makes it more convenient to smoke or dip.”

Tobacco use, smoked or smokeless, affects military readiness, the health of the Armed Forces and is a financial burden on the DoD, which spends more than $1.6 million each year on tobacco-related medical care, hospitalization and lost work days, according to the DoD Health-Related Behavior Survey.

In the meantime, prepare to quit by checking TRICARE Tobacco Cessation for tools to help you to become and stay tobacco free. You can also access a quit-support text message program, FAQs, a savings calculator and 24/7 live chat support at

Additionally, TRICARE beneficiaries should take full advantage of the available TRICARE programs and medications to help with their individual goals and needs.  

“Smokeless tobacco is not a safe alternative to smoking. Protect your health and wallet by quitting,” said Fitzpatrick. “On Feb. 19, kiss the spit goodbye!”


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