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The Facts about Dip and Chew

A lot of athletes get hooked before they know the facts about dip and chew. They don't know that spit tobacco:

  • is highly addictive
  • contains nicotine
  • doesn't help performance
  • is not a safe alternative to cigarettes

Addiction is one tough opponent. It doesn't take long to get hooked. In fact, you get more nicotine from spit tobacco than from cigarettes. To get unhooked, you have to know what you're up against and you need a game plan. Once you're hooked, it's hard to keep lid on this addiction.

There are no benefits of using spit tobacco. In a Major League Baseball poll, not one player who used dip or chew said that the tobacco improved his game or sharpened his reflexes.

Scientists agree. Spit tobacco does not improve athletic performance.

What's really in it for you?

  • Nicotine (addictive drug)
  • Polonium 210 (nuclear waste)
  • Formaldehyde (embalming fluid)
  • Cancer-Causing Chemicals
  • Radioactive Elements

These are just some of the ingredients in dip and chew. Spit tobacco is not a safe alternative to cigarettes. The toxic chemicals can damage your gums. They also can cause cancer.

The Truth about Dip and Chew

Even if you don't know the harm dip and chew can do, your body does.

Cancer is like a bomb! You don't know when it will go off.

Up to a certain point, if you quit, your body can heal itself... but the longer you use spit tobacco, the bigger your risk of getting cancer. You don't have to dip for 30 years to get cancer! Quit while you're still ahead of the game.

Don't let it be too late. Chewing tobacco and snuff can cause mouth and throat cancer. There are some athletes who have developed mouth cancer after only 6 or 7 years of using spit tobacco. It's hard to cure because it spreads fast.

If not caught right away, major surgery is often needed to take out parts of your mouth, jaw, and tongue.

Check you mouth often. Look closely at places where you hold the tobacco.
See your doctor or dentist right away if you have:

  • a sore that bleeds easily and doesn't heal
  • a lump or thickening anywhere in your mouth or neck
  • soreness or swelling that doesn't go away
  • trouble chewing, swallowing, or moving your tongue or jaw

Stay in the Game

Your doctor, dentist, trainer, or coach can help you quit. The best way to quit is to have a plan. The game plan in Spit Tobacco: A Guide for Quitting can make quitting easier.

Inside this guide you'll find out how to:

  • Pick a quit date
  • Cut back before quitting
  • Get through the tough times
  • Build a support team
  • Stay tobacco free!

For a free copy of this guide and quitting advice, call 1-800-4-CANCER, or order by going to http://www.nohic.nidcr.nih.gov, Spit Tobacco: A Guide for Quitting On-Line

For additional copies of this booklet contact:

National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research
National Oral Health Information Clearinghouse
Bethesda, MD 20892-3500

Information provided by:
National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research

This publication is not copyrighted. Make as many photocopies as you need.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
National Institutes of Health
Printed January 2000