Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital
Nov 2014 Veteran Spotlight on Tobacco Cessation
Veteran Bob Crawford never smoked, but was addicted to nicotine. While in the Navy, a fellow sailor offered him a dip of smokeless tobacco, promising “it will help keep you awake on your night shift.” It became a habit, and he was soon using 15 pouches of smokeless tobacco a day.
Once out of the Navy, Bob became concerned about his addiction to tobacco. He knew “it was a disgusting habit, because you’re always spitting.” As a DAV Service Officer, his habit caused an image and appearance problem. He also says, “It was an obstacle on the dating scene!”
Bob tried to quit off and on, but was not really ready. In June 2014, he heard that baseball great Tony Gwynn had died from oral cancer due to smokeless tobacco use. He could no longer deny the health risk. He adds, “I looked at my kids; I wanted to be there for them as they grow up.” Around the same time, he helped a Veteran with severe facial and speech problems related to oral cancer and tobacco use, and he made up his mind to quit.
Bob learned about Truman VA’s “Thinking about Quitting Tobacco” information class from his doctor. After attending, he decided to enroll in the Truman VA Quit Program.
While the other Veterans in the program were smokers, Bob realized that addiction to nicotine was the same regardless of whether a person smoked or dipped. Working on his quit plan with other Veterans really helped him. It was a challenge at first, but he learned strategies for getting through the urges without using tobacco and changed his routines to help him stay quit.
He has been tobacco free for four months and feels he has regained his freedom, saying “I am not attached to the can anymore!” His wife and family are very happy, and he knows his decision will improve everyone’s quality of life.
Bob wants other Veterans, particularly those who use smokeless tobacco, to know “quitting is not as hard as your thoughts and fears make it seem.” The knowledge and support he obtained in the Truman VA Tobacco Cessation Program helped him face his fears and doubts. He believes any Veteran can quit tobacco if they are ready and willing to ask for help.
To learn more about quitting options, ask your VA primary care team for a referral to the “Thinking about Quitting” class. Veterans may also call Dr. Joe Hinkebein, Lead Tobacco Cessation Clinician for the Truman VA, at (573) 814-6216.
For more information about quitting tobacco, go to: