Letting go of your dip or chew habit might feel challenging, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. Setting a quit day, identifying triggers, and creating new habits can help set you up for success.

Since it’s not linked to lung cancer, smokeless tobacco is often advertised as a dramatically safer alternative to smoking cigarettes.

Still, it comes with an array of serious health repercussions, including a higher risk of oral, esophageal, and pancreatic cancer.

Of course, knowing the risks doesn’t simply cause someone to quit automatically.

If you’re ready to kick your dip for good, there’s no one right way to do it. But certain approaches have been proven to increase your odds of success. Here’s what to know.

Without a game plan, the idea of quitting can feel overwhelming. But when you mentally rehearse for what’s in store, you’ll be best equipped to take on any challenges that come your way.

The experts at the American Cancer Society recommend identifying why you want to ditch the dip or chew. For instance, many people want to quit to protect their health — but that doesn’t have to be the only “why.”

Some other potential reasons include:

  • saving money
  • setting a good example for your children or loved ones
  • wanting to have more energy, health, and vitality for other activities
  • honoring the life of a loved one who has or had a disease caused by tobacco
  • wanting to smell nice for your partner or for yourself
  • believing the negatives of dipping outweigh the benefits

Visualizing your life as healthier and more fulfilling post-quitting can motivate you to make the change.

Even if there’s more evidence to support the “cold turkey” approach to quitting tobacco, gradually cutting back over time can also be effective.

If you want to taper off dipping or chewing over time, keeping the following tips in mind can boost your odds of success:

  • Get specific about how much you’re cutting back: Nicotine tapering can help your body gradually acclimate to less nicotine. For instance, if you usually dip nine times a day, try chewing just seven times for a few days and decrease from there. You can also leave the chew or dip in for less and less time.
  • Identify when and where you feel the strongest urge to use: Observing when you feel the strongest urge to use can help you overcome cravings in the long run. For instance, if you notice you always dip in your car when feeling stressed after work, you can remove the dip from your car.
  • Learn to delay using when you have a craving: See how long you can go without yielding to your urge. Maybe you first wait at least 10 minutes and then increase the challenge from there. Before you know it, you’ll be going all day without using it.

Whether you decide to gradually taper off use or go cold turkey, setting a quit date can help you stick to your goals. Experts typically recommend picking 1 day within the next month. This gives you ample time to prep but not so much that you change your mind.

Take care to set your quit date for a time when stress and, therefore, triggers are lower in your life (for example, not when you have a major performance review at work).

Consider creating a reminder on your phone and letting loved ones know about your quit date. When others ask you how quitting is going, it can help hold you accountable. When you succeed, it’s also a great reason to celebrate your accomplishments.

Before the big day, it’s useful to stick to the following:

  • Get rid of all dip, chew, or tobacco products in your environment.
  • Place oral substitutes in their place (like gum, hard candy, cinnamon sticks, or toothpicks).
  • Have a plan in place, such as using nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) or attending a support group.
  • Talk with a doctor or a therapist about your options, including coverage for therapy, medication, or treatment programs.
  • Connect with a support system (in-person or online).
  • Ask your friends and family to support you in your goal.
  • Prepare to avoid triggers.
  • Prepare to say “no” sometimes.
  • If you tried to quit before, try to understand what didn’t work.

Some cravings and withdrawal symptoms are inevitable, but developing a plan to manage them will help you stick to your goal.

The American Cancer Society recommends practicing the “4 Ds” every time you get a craving:

  • Delay for at least 10 minutes (and repeat if necessary until the craving subsides).
  • (Take) deep breaths.
  • Drink water or another beverage slowly.
  • Do something else (visit a friend, watch a funny video, etc.).

These steps may seem simple, but they’re effective. Nicotine replacement therapy and practicing a healthy lifestyle, in general, can also help you combat physical withdrawal symptoms.

Creating new habits is key to overcoming addiction.

For instance, if you tend to chew after work to unwind, it may be helpful to implement a new habit (like chewing gum, having a snack, meeting with a friend, or going to the gym) as part of your post-work routine.

If you feel ready, you can also set a boundary with yourself and avoid chewing or dipping in a place you’re most likely to use (like your car).

Other healthy habits include:

  • chewing sugar-free gum
  • spending time with loved ones who don’t use tobacco
  • cooking or eating a meal
  • exercising
  • meditating
  • journaling
  • playing a game

Many people benefit from using NRT to help curb withdrawal symptoms and manage cravings. Common options include:

  • nicotine gum
  • patches
  • lozenges
  • nasal sprays
  • inhalers

A doctor can help you create a nicotine replacement therapy plan that works for you.

Most challenges tend to be more manageable with support, and quitting dip or chew is no exception. Some options for professional support include:

  • a healthcare professional
  • a therapist or addiction counselor
  • quitting apps like QuitNow! Or EasyQuit
  • phone quitlines (like 800-QUIT-NOW)
  • Nicotine Anonymous meetings
  • self-help books or podcasts

If you want to quit dip or chew for good, it’s helpful to understand your “why” for quitting, pick a quit date, and develop a plan to ensure your success. Support groups, substance use counseling, nicotine replacement therapy, or visiting a doctor can also help you achieve your goals.

Even though everyone’s tobacco-free journey is different, these general guidelines have a record of success. And since many others who have followed these steps have successfully quit, remember that you can, too.