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Ditch the habit: Robins joins Great American Spit out Feb. 19

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- Whether you smoke or chew, tobacco is a habit that's bad for you.

Smokeless tobacco - commonly called chew, snuff or spit - is as addictive as smoking, and contains chemicals known to cause cancer and add to the negative outcomes of a long list of other health issues, said Stuart Bapties, Health and Wellness Center Flight chief.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the 28 cancer-causing chemicals in smokeless tobacco put regular users at risk for mouth cancer.

Bapties said smokeless tobacco users are 50 times more likely than non-users to get cheek, gum and throat cancer, And at some point, 75 percent of smokeless tobacco users may develop leathery white patches or red sores in their mouths, which can turn into cancer.

Tobacco can negatively impact one's professional performance too.

"Smokeless tobacco use reduces stamina and performance capacity, and increases stress, impairs vision, and decreases healing time while making you more susceptible to injury," Bapties said. "Smokeless tobacco  users are more likely to miss work or deployment due to illness or other complications." 

Tobacco use can also wreck your love life.

"Tobacco use can lead to erectile dysfunction for men under age 40," Bapties said. "The nicotine restricts blood flow that can cause impotence, and it can worsen impotence caused by other conditions."

Tobacco use also causes a higher risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and heart attacks from the effects of nicotine and high levels of salt in smokeless tobacco, the CDC reported.

Additionally, Bapties said smokeless tobacco users are more likely to develop cavities and gum disease which can lead to bone and tooth loss.

Bapties said the only way to stop the damage caused by tobacco is to quit.

All military members and Defense Department civilians, military retirees and dependents of both can call the HAWC at 478-327-8480 to get help with developing a personalized quit plan and gain access to tobacco cessation medications.
Robins' HAWC also offers quit lines and online programs to aid with stopping tobacco use.

The HAWC in Bldg. 827 and the Civilian Health Promotions staff in Bldg. 207 will hand out gift bags filled with educational materials, tools to help people quit, and prizes to those who commit to quit for 24 hours during the Great American Spit out the week of Feb. 19.

For more information, call the HAWC at 478-327-8480.