I Quit Smokeless Tobacco!!

The end of an era: this was my last-ever can of tobacco. As soon as I finished it, I officially announced that I was quitting.
The end of an era: this was my last-ever can of tobacco. As soon as I finished it, I officially announced that I was quitting. | Source

I Quit...Again and again and again and again!

On February 18, 2013, I made a decision that I'd been putting off for a while: I gave up "dipping" smokeless tobacco. I'd been a slave to this nasty habit since my teenage years and it was definitely time for it to go!

Mark Twain once famously said, "Quitting smoking is easy -- I've done it hundreds of times." The same can be said for "dipping." I had quit before - many times - but as Al Pacino says in The Godfather Part III, "just when I think I'm out, they pull me back in." I've back-slid into the habit more times than I can remember. So what makes this "quit" any different than my dozens of previous attempts? I simply feel that the time has come.

I'm not going to preach in this Hub and I'm not going to blast you with medical facts and figures or gross-out pictures to demonstrate how dumb, dangerous and potentially deadly smokeless tobacco can be. If you're reading this, I'm sure you know already that tobacco in general is not very good for you. You probably also know how hard it is to kick this habit, even if you're really sincere about giving it up for good. I just want to tell my story and hope that it inspires at least one person out there in Readerland to put down their "dip," or their cigarettes, cigars, etc. for good.

Pacino knows the score.

Hooked...

So how did I end up a hopelessly addicted "dipper" anyway? I certainly don't fit the stereotype of the typical tobacco "chewer." I live in New Jersey, not the Deep South. I can't stand country music, I rarely shop at Wal-Mart, and NASCAR bores me to death. Smokeless tobacco users are a rare breed in my suburban neck o' the woods.

If memory serves, I first tasted smokeless tobacco at the age of 13 when an older cousin offered me a "dip" of Hawken, a wintergreen-flavored tobacco that was popular at the time. My response obviously should've been "Chewing tobacco? Really? You gotta be kidding," but I'd seen pro ballplayers spitting gobs of the stuff all over the field on TV for years (Yankees legend Bobby Murcer even recorded a novelty country song called "Skoal Dippin' Man!"), and for some stupid reason I was curious enough to try some. I didn't get hooked that day, but I remember liking the taste and thinking "Hey, this isn't bad."

A year or two later I was on a fishing trip to the Adirondacks in Upstate New York with my father and brother, and Dad bought a can of "Skoal Bandits" (a pre-measured "pouch" of tobacco wrapped in what appeared to be a tiny tea bag). Dad was usually a cigarette smoker, but being environmentally conscious, he would switch to "chew" on fishing trips so he wouldn't leave crushed-out cigarette butts all over the boat or in the lake. Oddly enough, even as a kid I hated the fact that my Dad smoked, but I found "chew" intriguing -- even if it was kinda gross. Dad didn't care for the Bandits' flavor, and one fateful morning my brother and I found the nearly-full canister sitting unattended on the fireplace mantle in our cabin. We each stole a couple of the little pouches (mint flavored!), figuring Dad wouldn't notice... and we actually enjoyed them. We later learned that Dad did indeed take note of our thievery, but he was sure we'd be so grossed out by the experience that we'd swear on a stack of Bibles never to touch that stuff again. Unfortunately, Dad's little experiment in reverse psychology backfired. By the time we got home from that fishing trip, I was well on my way to being a full time chew-head. I tried every brand I could get my hands on, eventually settling on Beech Nut Chewing Tobacco and Skoal Long Cut Mint "dip" as my "go-to" brands. Months later Mom found a half chewed pack of Beech Nut sticking out of my jacket pocket, asked where I'd picked up such a disgusting habit, and my panicked reply was, "Ummmmm, from Dad!" ... of course, when she went to Dad and told him what I'd said, his response was an exasperated, "He wasn't supposed to LIKE it!" (I don't think Dad ever quite forgave me for throwing him under the bus like that; I still feel guilty about it to this very day. Sorry, Pop. Let the record show that I don't blame him at all and never did. It was my own stupidity that got me into the habit.)

Red Man tobacco commercial circa 1986

Brilliant marketing idea: instead of those little bitty cans, you can now buy smokeless tobacco by the giant bucketful. Only in America, folks!!
Brilliant marketing idea: instead of those little bitty cans, you can now buy smokeless tobacco by the giant bucketful. Only in America, folks!!

"What're you, stupid?"

If all this sounds shocking, you have to keep in mind that in the early 1980s, chewing tobacco and "dip" was still very under-the-radar when it came to health concerns. It was already well documented that cigarettes were bad for ya (mmm-kay?) and I'd had plenty of anti-smoking propaganda drilled into me at school, but I can't remember a single word ever being said about smokeless or chewing tobacco. Packages of chew and "dip" didn't have health warning labels on them like cigarette packs did, and there was no "You Must be 18 Years of Age To Buy This Product" rule for it like there was for cigarettes, either. Cigarette ads had been banished from the TV airwaves before I was born, but commercials for Skoal and other smokeless tobacco products were visible well into the mid 1980s. Such oversights have been corrected since then, but at the time I took full advantage of the lack of regulations. I'm fairly sure that I didn't think chewing or dipping was a "safer" habit than smoking - I was dumb, but I wasn't an idiot - but at the very least, I must've seen it as a lesser evil.

Anyway, it didn't take long before the chorus of "You gotta give up that @#$%! It's gonna give you mouth cancer! You're gonna lose all your teeth! etc., etc." rose up from my family and friends... but it was too late. I was hooked, and I was also too dumb/proud/thick headed to ask for help with quitting. (I wonder if they would've had better luck if they'd simply told me, "You're never gonna get a girlfriend if the girls see you spitting that nasty @#$% out every ten seconds.") Instead, I became very skilled at smuggling my 'supply' in and out of the house so Mom wouldn't know that I was still chomping on the Demon Tobacco at a frighteningly prodigious rate. Soon I was off to college and living in the dorms, so subterfuge and secrecy weren't an issue anymore. I could dip to my heart's content! Isn't that GREAT?.... yeah, sure it is, dumb ass. As the years went on and my tastes changed, I stopped using so-called "leaf" or "loose" tobacco ala Red Man, Beech Nut, etc. entirely, in favor of using canned "dip" exclusively. In addition, I also moved away from the Skoal family and sampled countless other brands of "dip" over the next several years including "Rooster", "Kodiak", "Red Seal", "Kayak," and "Timber Wolf" before eventually settling on my current (until I quit, anyway) favorite, "Longhorn."

"Happy Days" tobacco commercial, 1978

GET THEE BEHIND ME SATAN!!!
GET THEE BEHIND ME SATAN!!! | Source

"I Wish I Knew How to Quit You!"

I first tried to quit "dip" while I was in college. The reason for it is long forgotten, but I doubt that I was inspired by any sort of concern for my health; more than likely, I simply wanted to save my meager stash of spending money for more important college-student stuff, like CDs, concert tickets and 40-ounce beers. Whatever the reason, the experience didn't go very well. I'd read previously that nicotine withdrawal could actually be worse than giving up heroin, and I'd said "Awww, that's a bunch of bullsh*t" -- until I tried it. WOW, did that suck! I was sleepless for days, suffered from an inability to focus, and experienced MAJOR Irritability! If I'd had a girlfriend at the time, she probably would've kicked me in the nads for being a total douche and left me! I was absolutely unbearable to be around for the week or two that I kept off the stuff, before I finally went "Aw, f**k it, it ain't worth it!"

As I grew older, many more attempts at "quitting" followed. I tried before I got married. I tried after I got married. (Yes, folks, I actually found a wonderful woman who was willing to put up with me despite my disgusting habit and all the spitting that goes with it. God bless her.) I tried before the birth of my first son, tried again before the birth of my second son, and tried yet again most recently when I turned 40. Sometimes it would "take" for a while, and I'd be "on the wagon" for a couple of months or more (one time I lasted almost a year and a half) but something - stress at work, a death in the family, any sort of crisis - would always send me running back to my ol' pal, Nick O'Teene. However, as I got older I got more and more concerned about the potential health effects of my constant dipping. My children are also old enough now to understand that Daddy's habit is not good for him and they've been very vocal about letting me know that I shouldn't do it. Thankfully (knock on wood) I still have all my teeth and regular dentist visits have shown nothing out the ordinary goin' on in there, but I'd still panic any time I woke up and felt a sore spot in my mouth, or worry whenever I came down with a sore throat, thinking "Is this... it?" Finally, after flipping out for the umpteenth time over a pain that turned out to be nothing major, I asked myself... "is this sh*t really worth it?" and the obvious answer came back... HELL NO!

Three Years...and counting!

In 2016, I celebrated my 3rd anniversary without tobacco, which is hardly a lifetime...but it's longer than I've made it during my last few attempts at quitting, and thankfully the "crave attacks" have become fewer and farther between. The occasional grouchiness is still there, but I think that by this point it's just an ingrained part of my personality which has nothing to do with tobacco withdrawal. (haha)

I was also very up front with my family and friends (and my fellow Hubbers), telling everyone that I'd quit. By getting the word out, I hoped that I'd stay inspired and keep going... because if I backslid after making such a big deal about quitting, then I'd have to admit my failure all over the Internet and look like a schmuck.

I'll go back to writing about forgotten heavy-metal bands and/or genre movies in my next Hub. Till then, thanks to everyone who checked out this lengthy ramble. Giving "advice" is not my usual area of expertise, but I had to get this one out of my system.

...And hey, if there are any youngsters out there reading this who've recently picked up the dip habit... take it from an old hand: Quit. Now. Yeah, nicotine withdrawal sucks but it beats the alternative. Besides, you look like an idiot with a cheek full of that crap, and you're never gonna get a girlfriend if they see you spitting that nasty @#$% out every ten seconds. Seriously, what are you thinking?

UPDATE: February 18, 2016

It's Wednesday February 18, 2016, and today I am celebrating THREE YEARS without tobacco. It hasn't always been easy but at least I don't start salivating when I see the smokeless-tobacco display in the convenience store anymore. I am pretty confident that I am over the hump and will be able to keep the nicotine demon away for the rest of my life. Thanks to everyone who's read and commented on this Hub for your continued support!!

More by this Author


Comments 52 comments

Brian L. Marshall 3 years ago

Growing up in WV it seemed the thing to do when you got to be a certain age. I remember friends used to have their HappyDays or Copenhagen, and it seemed almost all kids had that worn circular spot in their jeans back-pocket. I tried like the Dickens to rub snuff. I used Bandits primarily in my attempts but accidentally swallowing that stuff is murder. Murder, I tell ya! So I picked the path of least-resistance. I began smoking. After about 25 years of that I finally quit cold turkey....for about 5 years. Out of the blue, I started smoking Swisher Sweets cigars and fell in love with the habit again. But damn did I stink! Then I started using these new-fangled e-cigarettes, so I still have a nicotine habit, but I don't smell and I can "vape" all day long at work.


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 3 years ago from The Garden State Author

Thanks for the comment, Brian.. good to hear from a veteran of the nicotine struggle, like me. :)


FreedomMetal profile image

FreedomMetal 3 years ago from Somewhere In Time

Good luck! I was never big into dip, but I did in high school some, either Copenhagen or Kodiak. Hopefully it takes this time!


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 3 years ago from The Garden State Author

Thanx Freedom -- strangely enough, despite its popularity, Copenhagen was the one brand of "dip" that I never liked very much... tasted like dirt...haha


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 3 years ago from The Garden State Author

As of today, I have been tobacco-free for two weeks. Onward and upward!!


Bishop55 profile image

Bishop55 3 years ago from USA

Best of luck to you! I'm 5 days smoke free. I say smoke free because I'm vaping. I know...I suck. But I have to start somewhere. I've tried quitting cold turkey 3x and failed. Vaping is ok with me right now. I get my nicotine, minus the other poison. Eventually I'll cut myself off from this silliness too. I wish you the best! I've felt my habit has needed fired for many many years.


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 3 years ago from The Garden State Author

Thanx for the kind words and well wishes, Bishop... so far so good, today was my fifteenth tobacco-free day and I haven't killed anybody yet. :D


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 3 years ago from The Garden State Author

It's now been three weeks without tobacco for me. Wooooot!!


calculus-geometry profile image

calculus-geometry 3 years ago from Germany

Good luck with everything! Did you ever try the nicotine gum?


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 3 years ago from The Garden State Author

Hi Calculus - nope, I've never tried it. I was chewing the hell out of regular Bazooka for the first week or so though. Haha. Thanks for the kind wishes.


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 3 years ago from The Garden State Author

Four weeks without tobacco, as of yesterday. Wonder of wonders!


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 3 years ago from The Garden State Author

Six tobacco-free weeks as of yesterday. Woohoo!!!


Lorne Carter 3 years ago from Fayetteville, Arkansas

Congratulations – I was a former dipper for 14 years before the first time I quit. A mixture of ripping a big piece of skin from my lip, soon to be wife and I didn’t want to bring the tobacco into our relationship & Welburton, which is like the other drug at the time that was popular for quitting nicotine let to the first demise. I quit and stayed off for 5 years.

But alas she came back. Not sure how.. yeah I was at a college football game with friends and one time won’t hurt. Got hooked again and until my first daughter came into the world did I finally consider quitting. Actually the tipping point was when they discontinued the Berry Blend pouches. I liked those because they didn’t have that nasty smell that tipped off my family and co-workers. So instead of searching for a replacement, I just said as a consumer if you don’t want to make what I buy, I won’t buy. Maybe not the traditional way of quitting, but quitting none the less.

Now I do chew 10 pieces or so of Nicorette a day. So I still haven’t found a way to deal with a high stress job and an oral fixation problem. Yes I know I’m still at risk for high blood pressure, but at least the cancer isn’t a concern anymore. And I have fresh breath….

Stick with it and remember… it’s always going to try to get back in your life be it 5 minutes or 5 years from now. The trick is to remember not to even leave a crack in the door where it can slither back in.


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 3 years ago from The Garden State Author

Hi Lorne - thanks for the well wishes and congrats to you on being able to give up the "evil dip."

This is not my first attempt at quitting but hopefully it will be my last. I know all too well that it's going to try to "get back in" my life, probably forever, but for now at least, the road ahead looks good.


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 3 years ago from The Garden State Author

Eight tobacco-free weeks for me. Woohoo!!


zeke2100 profile image

zeke2100 3 years ago

Has it been 10 weeks now?


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 3 years ago from The Garden State Author

Yes it has!! Thanks for checking!!

...I suppose the fact that I'm no longer obsessively counting the days and weeks is a very good sign!!


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 3 years ago from The Garden State Author

12 tobacco free weeks and counting!!


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 3 years ago from The Garden State Author

I have now been tobacco free for one hundred days!!


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 3 years ago from The Garden State Author

In three days, I will have been tobacco free for SIX MONTHS. Woot!!


Geekdom profile image

Geekdom 3 years ago

Congratulations! Great story and hub. I quick smoking 5 years ago and I still find days that I crave it, but always I remember how hard (I quit a lot previously) it was and how I don't want to have to do that again.


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 3 years ago from The Garden State Author

Hi Geekdom - thanks for the kind words. I still get the occasional craving so I know that on some level I'll never be totally "out of the woods" .. but for now at least, onward and upward.


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 3 years ago from The Garden State Author

Today is my 200th day without tobacco! Woohoo!!


Geekdom profile image

Geekdom 3 years ago

Congratulations!


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 3 years ago from The Garden State Author

Thanx Geekdom! Onward and upward!!


BlackDiamondCheesehead 3 years ago

Congratulations,man - I know it can't be easy...

I bet your children are your biggest source of inspiration - I know when I go through some tough times, my daughter always gives me strength...


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 3 years ago from The Garden State Author

Thanx BDC.


Muttface profile image

Muttface 3 years ago from Portugal

You still off it then?

I tried Betel Nut while I was in Asia. Ever heard of it? It was funny seeing the blood like streaks running down the streets and the old ladies with ruby teeth.


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 3 years ago from The Garden State Author

Hi Muttface...yep, I'm still off of it... Celebrated my 250th day about a week ago. Thanks for asking.


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 3 years ago from The Garden State Author

275 tobacco free days thus far!


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 2 years ago from The Garden State Author

THREE HUNDRED tobacco free days as of yesterday!! Can I get a WOOT??


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 2 years ago from The Garden State Author

Updated since I have been tobacco free for ONE YEAR as of today!!


Anna Haven profile image

Anna Haven 2 years ago from Scotland

Well done you, congrats on a year. :)


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 2 years ago from The Garden State Author

Thank you, Anna. Hopefully it will be the first year of many to come. :D


Thief12 profile image

Thief12 2 years ago from Puerto Rico

Congrats! Keep it up.


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 2 years ago from The Garden State Author

Thanx Thief!! Onward and upward!!


sujaya venkatesh profile image

sujaya venkatesh 2 years ago

good luck fat


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 2 years ago from The Garden State Author

Thanks sujaya... so far, it's been going well!


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 2 years ago from The Garden State Author

Updated as I approach my year-and-a-half anniversary without tobacco!!


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 21 months ago from The Garden State Author

Updated to announce that I have now been tobacco free for TWO YEARS!


Thief12 profile image

Thief12 21 months ago from Puerto Rico

Congrats again!


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 21 months ago from The Garden State Author

Thanx Thief! It's been a quick two years!


peachpurple profile image

peachpurple 20 months ago from Home Sweet Home

congrats, my dad stopped smoking when he had high blood pressure, it was immediate action


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 20 months ago from The Garden State Author

thanks Peach -- it's now been two years since I quit and I hope that means I'm off the stuff for life!!


jmatthewdobson profile image

jmatthewdobson 17 months ago

Enjoyed reading this. Dipping is immensely popular here in Texas and I couldn't tell you how many times I've tried to kick the can. I made it six months at one time, but unfortunately I fell off the wagon once more when offered some of it at a Thanksgiving get-together. I decided, "Sure, one little dip won't hurt..." Nope, after that, it was "one can won't hurt"...I think you know the story from there. And those nicotine urges ARE tough to get through.


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 17 months ago from The Garden State Author

Hi jmatthewdobson... I can relate, I fell into the "one dip won't hurt" trap many times when I tried to quit in the past...and it always ended in a backslide.


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 16 months ago from The Garden State Author

Updated as I approach the two-and-a-half year mark without tobacco!


Helga Silva profile image

Helga Silva 12 months ago from USA

Congratulations! Looks like you don't miss it.


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 12 months ago from The Garden State Author

Hi Helga - thanks for the kind words, I think I'm over the hump now after all this time but I still occasionally get a "crave attack"...thankfully they're fewer and farther between... I guess once you give up a habit like this it hangs around the fringes of your psyche for the rest of your life...but I'm staying strong!!


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 9 months ago from The Garden State Author

Updated as I have now been tobacco free for THREE YEARS!


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 7 months ago from The Garden State Author

Update


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 7 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Congratulations. Good for you. One less bad habit is always a good thing! I know, I know.....that was the ONLY bad habit you had and now you're perfect. Of course I realize this.

People who have never become addicted to anything really don't "get" how difficult it can be to stop. You should be proud.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working