When the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) weighs in on kissing and spitting, it’s with good reason–two good reasons, in fact: love and health. Using smokeless tobacco–spit, dip, chew, snus, etc.–can pose a stinky, unsavory obstacle to sharing a kiss with a loved one, parent, child or sweetheart. It also may cause a slew of serious health problems. That’s why DoD/TRICARE(R) wants military personnel to participate in the Great American Spit Out (GASpO) on February 24, 2011, and kiss the spit goodbye for a day.
Some 19 percent of 18- to 24-year-old men in the armed forces use smokeless tobacco, more than double the national rate. To help cut that number down, the DoD Quit Tobacco–Make Everyone Proud campaign at http://www.ucanquit2.org is focusing this month on helping those who spit and chew tobacco to develop a personalized quit plan and to take action that may get them more kisses and help them gain more years of a healthy life.
“Many of our servicemen started using smokeless tobacco at a young age due to peer pressure and became addicted before realizing the negative effects it could have on their personal relationships and health,” said Cmdr. Aileen Buckler, M.D., M.P.H., U.S. Public Health Service officer and chairman of the DoD Alcohol and Tobacco Advisory Committee.
Throughout the month, the DoD website will host a special GASpO page, http://www.ucanquit2.org/facts/gaspo/, where service members can publicly post their pledge to quit. Capt. Larry N. Williams, U.S. Navy tobacco clinical cessation champion, will host an Ask the Expert forum, answering questions about smokeless tobacco. Installations planning GASpO events will find ideas, an event registration page, pledge cards and downloadable promotional materials.
Service members and their friends, family and other supporters are invited to join the GASpO event on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=177051459002636. Those planning to quit can get a “Kiss me, I’m tobacco-free” badge to post on their Facebook page.
Oral cancer has been linked to smokeless tobacco use. Surgery to treat oral cancer can remove parts of the face, tongue, cheek or lip, severely damaging one’s social desirability. Those who use smokeless tobacco are marked by bulging cheeks, gunk stuck in teeth, permanently discolored teeth and spitting cups, all universally unappealing. Visitors will also find hard-hitting facts that dispel the myth that smokeless tobacco is a safe alternative to smoking. For instance, almost half of those who contract oral cancer die within 5 years, and one person dies from oral cancer every hour.
“Don’t let spitting and chewing get in the way of your personal relationships,” urged Buckler. “Take this opportunity to do something for yourself and those you love. Kiss smokeless tobacco goodbye and experience the benefits to your social life and health.”
Enrolling in the website’s comprehensive support system, Train2Quit, can be the first step in the journey to saying goodbye to smokeless tobacco. The system features interactive components such as quit tools, self-assessment questionnaires and quizzes. Service members can create a customizable quit plan with a calendar to track progress and learn how to beat cravings, overcome weight gain and cope with the effects of nicotine withdrawal. The site also has personal quit coaches, available 24/7, to answer questions about becoming tobacco-free.