I was interviewed by AllTreatment.com in July of 2011. I recently ran across this article again and wanted to archive it here on the blog.
NOTE: I claim no authorship over this article. Merely keeping it here for posterity sake.
Smokeless Tobacco Addiction: an Interview with Greg of KillTheCan
AllTreatment conducted an interview with Greg, co-founder of KillTheCan.org – http://www.killthecan.org/– a website dedicated to helping people quit smokeless tobacco. KillTheCan has a quitter community with a membership of over 8,000, 2 blogs, a live chat, social media presence (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook), and just launched a similar site focusing on smokers called WhackThePack – http://www.whackthepack.com/. Greg himself is 1,814 days free from Kodiak smokeless tobacco.
AllTreatment: What are some common misconceptions about smokeless tobacco?
Greg: There’s quite a bit of mis-information out there about dip/chew/snuff.
#1 is that it’s “safer” than smoking. It’s not. While there are certainly more deaths attributed to smoking, that’s partially due to the fact that there are MORE smokers out there. I can’t tell you how many times people tell me that they’ve gotten hooked on smokeless in order to quit smoking. The product contains nicotine which is a deadly and HIGHLY addictive drug.
#2 is that it’s not as addictive as smoking. That’s simply not the case. A can of dip contains the same amount of nicotine as 3 PACKS of cigarettes. I was a can+ per day Kodiak user so I was essentially a 3-4 pack per day smoker (from a nicotine perspective). No WONDER it’s so difficult to quit dipping.
AT: Are there aspects of smokeless tobacco that might make it more attractive than other forms of tobacco?
Greg: Smokeless is advertised and promoted as an alternative to smoking. The concept of “brotherhood” is really talked up in all the promotional materials which creates a sort of “I’m cool for using these products” mentality for the user. Additionally, smokeless doesn’t have the widespread public backlash that smoking does so even though there is that “eww” factor some people actually like the fact that they’re using a product that’s thought of by many as “gross”. I suppose I’ll refer to this as the “outlaw” or “rebel” effect. Additionally, there are a variety of new products now that are even promoted as “spitless” which is really scary. Growing up as a teen user, that was always one of the things that made using more difficult… where to spit. Now that they’ve taken that out of the equation I foresee a whole SLEW of underage users that can now hide their use from parents/teachers.
AT: As you mentioned on your website, 90% of smokeless tobacco users are male. Do you have a sense of why this might be? Does that make overcoming addiction even more difficult for female users?
Greg: I think it’s mainly because it’s perceived as a male thing to do. Additionally, many male users are introduced to the product by older brothers, fathers, etc. That’s not to say that there aren’t many female users out there. We have quite a few female quitters in our forums. Overcoming that addiction may be more difficult for females because they have to overcome the stigma of a female dipper BEFORE they deal with addiction. I often hear from our female users, “I thought I was the only girl dipper out there… it’s amazing to find that there are others out there like me.”
AT: There are several forms of nicotine-free smokeless tobacco available. Do you feel these products can be effective in helping people quit?
Greg: ABSOLUTELY! Addiction to smokeless has many facets. The emotional addiction, the medical addiction and the physical addiction. These products really do help with the physical act of having something “between your cheek and gum”. Some people feel that it’s “too close to the real thing” but for many (myself included) they can be a life saver. We have a listings, ingredients and product reviews available on our site: http://www.killthecan.org/yourquit/alternatives.asp
AT: What are some of the most important factors in successfully quitting smokeless tobacco?
Greg: #1 is recognizing that you are indeed an addict. Many people have a hard time admitting that fact. Also, you must realize that you’ll ALWAYS be an addict. You can’t ever go back and you can’t “just have one”. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen someone have a successful quit going (hundreds or thousands of days quit) and have fallen right back into their addiction because they thought they could “just have one”. That’s the biggest lie out there.
However, the concept of “forever” is too big for an addict to wrap their mind around. That’s why we take a “one day at a time” approach”. At KillTheCan.org, we quit for “today”. We make daily promises. We’ll deal with tomorrow when we get there.
If #1 is recognizing your addiction, #1A would be getting support. Having a doctor, spouse or friend tell you to quit is one thing. However for most people the person telling them to quit has no idea what it’s like. Being around a group a people who understand what it’s like to quit from personal experience can make all the difference in the world. Our forums have over 8,000 members. We aren’t doctors… we’re quitters. We speak from experience.
Thanks for sharing your experiences and advice with us, Greg! Glad to see that there is such a good source of information for people looking to quit smokeless tobacco.