It’s never too late for Veterans to enjoy the benefits of quitting smokeless tobacco, like better health and a brighter smile. VA treatment and resources can help.
The Great American Spit Out takes place on February 22 and encourages tobacco users to make an attempt to stop dipping, chewing or using other smokeless tobacco products. On this day, VA wants Veterans to know that a variety of treatment options and support is available to help you stop using smokeless tobacco with a plan that fits your goals. VA also is reminding Veterans that it’s never too late to benefit from spitting out tobacco for the last time. No matter what age you are when you stop using smokeless tobacco, your quality of life can improve through:
- Whiter teeth and healthier gums.
- Fewer mouth sores.
- Better ability to taste food.
- Reduced risk of mouth, throat, and pancreatic cancers.
- Reduced risk of early child delivery and stillbirth.
- Lower risk of death from heart disease and stroke.
Whether you’re 18 or 81, you begin to feel some benefits shortly after quitting — and the benefits continue to build over time. Five years after you quit, your risk of mouth cancer is cut in half, and your risk of throat and pancreatic cancers also lowers significantly.
VA Support and Treatment
Tobacco products like dip and chew contain nicotine, which is addictive. Many people find it challenging to stop using tobacco. That’s why VA offers Veterans:
- Resources to develop their own quit plan.
- Treatment and support to help them stick with their plan.
VA urges Veterans to talk with their providers about the many treatment options available to help them stop using smokeless tobacco. All VA medical centers and community-based outpatient clinics offer tobacco use treatment options, including:
- Counseling: The Minneapolis VA has options for face to face counseling as well as an 8-session weekly Online Veterans Tobacco Cessation Group Wednesdays at 10:00 a.m. This group is led by a psychologist, peer support specialist, pharmacist, and other health care professionals to help you quit smoking, vaping, or chewing tobacco. There is an optional hypnosis for stress management and coping that can be considered. For help quitting, call your provider at 612-467-1100 or contact through My HealtheVet’s Secure Messaging.
- Medications: To help reduce nicotine withdrawal symptoms and cravings that come with stopping tobacco use, VA offers prescription medications and nicotine replacement therapy like nicotine gum, patches and lozenges. Your provider can guide you through the available options and help you decide which one, or combination, is likely to work best for you. The My HealtheVet online portal is one way to contact your provider.
- Quit VET: Veterans can call 1-855-QUIT-VET (1-855-784-8838) for counseling and help in developing a plan to stop their use of smokeless tobacco. Quit coaches are available Monday through Friday, between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. CT, to help you prepare for potential challenges. Coaches offer continued support in English or Spanish through follow-up calls and counseling sessions.
- SmokefreeVET: For tools and tips you can use to quit using smokeless tobacco, sign up for SmokefreeVET by texting VET to 47848. SmokefreeVET is the first tobacco use treatment text messaging program that can be tailored for individuals who use smokeless tobacco, and it provides regular text messages and extra support for Veterans who text the keywords URGE, STRESS or DIPPED to 47848. Para inscribirse en SmokefreeVET en español, manda el texto VETesp al 47848. Learn more on the SmokefreeVET website.