Back to Top Skip to main content

Spit smokeless tobacco out – for good

Smokeless tobacco is not a healthier alternative to smoking. Links exist to its use and several cancers – not to mention leathery patches in the mouth, stained teeth, and bad breath. Users can take advantage of the Great American Spit Out Feb. 20 to begin their path to a tobacco-free lifestyle. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Paul Peterson) Smokeless tobacco is not a healthier alternative to smoking. Links exist to its use and several cancers – not to mention leathery patches in the mouth, stained teeth, and bad breath. Users can take advantage of the Great American Spit Out Feb. 20 to begin their path to a tobacco-free lifestyle. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Paul Peterson)

Recommended Content:

Tobacco-Free Living

Smokeless tobacco use by service members is much higher than in the U.S. adult population. This fact concerns the military medical community. Users say it helps with alertness, and allows them to stay connected with peers. But evidence links products like snuff, dip, and chewing tobacco to cancer and poor oral health. Such products also contain nicotine and are addictive.

To the Military Health System, using tobacco in any form poses a threat to readiness and the overall health of the force. Smokeless tobacco contains over 30 chemicals that cause cancer. It’s not a safe alternative to other forms of tobacco, like cigarettes.

Today, Feb. 20, MHS encourages all smokeless tobacco users to stop – even if just for a day – for the Great American Spit Out. One day might lead to a second and set users on a path to stopping for good.

“We know that nicotine helps with alertness. But smokeless tobacco products also have negative effects on dental, readiness, and long-term health,” said U.S. Public Health Service Capt. Kimberly Elenberg, director of the Defense Health Agency’s Total Force Fitness office.

DoD’s tobacco education campaign, YouCanQuit2, urges tobacco users to assess their readiness to take action and make a plan to quit.

YouCanQuit2 provides many resources to service members and beneficiaries on their journey to becoming tobacco free.

“We’re providing them with education, and also support for quitting tobacco if they so choose,” Elenberg said. “This includes a 24/7 Live Chat for questions, support, and encouragement, as well as an interactive savings calculator.”

YouCanQuit2 can help people quit in several ways. There are tips for writing a quit plan, and for managing cravings and stress. There’s information on prescription and over-the-counter products to help people quit. There are even ideas to prevent weight gain. Plus, care providers can order and print out campaign materials.

YouCanQuit2 has Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter channels. All provide ideas on ways to quit.

TRICARE offers many benefits aimed at quitting smokeless tobacco use. TRICARE-authorized providers can counsel beneficiaries age 18 and older who live in the United States or District of Columbia. Medicare recipients are not eligible.

Research shows that using a program and a product together increases chances of quitting for good. As a result, coverage of tobacco cessation products is provided through military pharmacies or the TRICARE pharmacy home delivery program. These products include Chantix, Zyban, and nicotine replacement therapy, such as nasal sprays, inhalers, patches, gum, and lozenges. There’s no cost, although brands vary by pharmacy and generics may be provided. A prescription is needed for all products from a TRICARE-authorized provider, even if the product can be bought over the counter. The minimum age is 18 and Medicare recipients are not eligible. None of these products are covered at retail pharmacies.

Coverage of products and counseling for service members and beneficiaries stationed overseas is provided for those enrolled in TRICARE Prime Overseas.

The government has other help available. Mobile apps found at make support as close as the smartphone. also provides DipfreeTXT, a texting program for those who want to quit.

On the Great American Spit Out 2020, there have never been more ways to spit out tobacco for good.

You also may be interested in...

NMCPHC fights tobacco addiction

Woman showing man a poster about smoking cessation

Managing the Navy’s tobacco cessation efforts is “job one” for Long.

Recommended Content:

November Toolkit | National Veterans & Military Families Month | Tobacco-Free Living

Air Force warns Airmen of e-cigarette risks

An Airman holds an electronic cigarette at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating the more than 2,000 cases of e-cigarette, or vaping, product use associated lung injury that have occurred across the country. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Erica Crossen)

Many e-cigarette products have a higher concentration of nicotine

Recommended Content:

Substance Abuse | Tobacco-Free Living

DHA brings big guns to bear in the war against tobacco use

Activities like this barbecue for the Great American Smokeout at the 22 Area Single Marine Program recreational center on Camp Pendleton, Calif., are among many efforts to educate service members and beneficiaries about dangers related to tobacco and nicotine use. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Anabel Abreu-Rodriguez)

An “edgy and honest” approach to educating service members and beneficiaries

Recommended Content:

Tobacco-Free Living

Military exchanges extinguish vape sales

Vape products, including e-cigs, e-cigarettes, vapes, and e-hookahs, are electronic nicotine delivery devices that heat a sometimes flavored nicotine-infused liquid into a vapor that users inhale. The Army and Air Force Exchange Service and the Navy Exchange Service have discontinued the sale of vape products. (DoD photo by Marvin D. Lynchard)

The long-term effects of vaping are unknown and not understood

Recommended Content:

Public Health | Tobacco-Free Living

Health agencies investigating severe lung illnesses linked to e-cigarette use

"While the CDC investigation of the possible cases of lung illness and deaths reportedly associated with the use of e-cigarette products is ongoing, Service members and their families or dependents are encouraged not to use e-cigarette products,” advised Dr. Terry Adirim, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Health Services Policy and Oversight. (DoD photo)

Thirty-three states report 450 possible cases, six deaths

Recommended Content:

Tobacco-Free Living | Substance Abuse | Public Health
Showing results 1 - 5 Page 1 of 1

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.