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The Student News Site of Claudia Taylor Johnson High School

My Jag News

The Student News Site of Claudia Taylor Johnson High School

My Jag News

Dippin’ til death: The dangers of chewing tobacco and words of warning


Melissa Smith| Arts & Entertainment editor

Senior Travis Haese stumbles out of the room with an exasperated expression tying in with a pale, sickly face. He collapses, exclaiming, “I just accidentally swallowed my dip”.

He continues to sit and stare, focusing on the awful eruption which has been currently  taking place in his stomach. His eyes begin to water, and his cheeks puff up.

“[The feeling of swallowing dip is] well, indescribable. No way its not worth it, it makes you feel like crap. Swallowing dip, depending on size, can have a serious affect. Small, a little nauseous. Big, all out puke fest.”

Dipping becomes more than an unhealthy habit.

Despite that experience, Haese has dipped every single day and does not see himself stopping anytime soon.

“I like the feeling, my dad dips. I like being just like my dad. He’s my father and I look up to him,” adding, “I have tried [to stop dipping], it’s nearly impossible [to stop].”

He has witnessed the awful results of the affects of dipping, and has even experienced some of his own.

“So in fact, one time, [my friend] was dipping and he spit and was spitting blood. And one kid was like, ‘Dude, you need to stop dipping’ and I was like ‘Nah man, that’s when you start’,” he said with a chuckle. “I, personally, have never spit out blood. Actually once. In fact,  I have nothing wrong with me right now.”

Dipping can have it’s serious side affects, as Dr. Richard Smith explains. It can possibly lead to cancer, and a not at all pleasant death.

“The long term effect could be oral cancer. This type of cancer can involve soft tissue areas, including the tongue, palate, cheek and gums. Eventually it would affect the jaw bones above the jaws, including the eye sockets. Of course, the eventual result could be a very excruciating death. Long term can mean everything from eight to forty or more years.”

Principal John Mehlbrech shares how his nephew, Ross, endured oral cancer-which was caused by dipping- and how it affected the rest of his life.

“Ross was a young man who chewed tobacco for many years. While in his early thirties, he was diagnosed with cancer in the jaw area. The doctors let him know that cancer was a direct result of his chewing. When first diagnosed, he was given just a few months to live as the cancer was very aggressive and would eventually move into the brain. The next year and a half, Ross went to several specialists hoping for a miracle.”

It was proven that hope wasn’t enough for Ross’ survival.

“Ross had several surgeries. After each surgery, he would lose more and more of his jaw and tongue. Between surgeries, Ross went through so much chemotherapy that the skin around the jaw area would not heal. The last few weeks of his life Ross had an open wound around on what used to be his jaw bone, until his death at 37. During the last few months of his life, Ross was bed ridden and unable to speak,” explained Melbrech.

Haese comes across as somewhat fearless of the risks he is taking though he has heard and seen the possible damage, and is going day by day avoiding his worries.

“I think in the future the health side effects of dipping will severely effect me, but I guess I’m just playing Russian roulette with this one.”

He also seems confident that his addiction won’t last forever, and he will get over it fairly soon, or at least, someday.

“Yup [I do think I will quit eventually], of course. Probably is just a phase, but time will tell.”

Haese has had his scares, well more than a scare. He was so alarmed that he finally admitted that he had been dipping to his mother.

“Well actually one time I found a very, how can I word this, a very terrifying object in my mouth next to my lip. It was just a cold sore, not herpes, it was just from the irritation from having the dip right there. And I freaked out, and that was when I told my mom that I had been dipping, and she got very mad at me. She gave me twenty lashes,” he then explains with an embarrassed whisper, “Spankings.”

Haese’s mother gave him some feedback that he knows is logical, but looks upon it casually, yet with a hint of regret.

“She told me ‘You wouldn’t have to deal with this if you had never started in the first place’ and I was like yeah, I know,”  he said with a humorous, yet insightful tone.

Smith has advice for those striving to quit, for those who are stubborn to do so even at risk of their health.

“First, that person must be truthful to himself that he is addicted and really want to quit. Once the first thing is resolved and he really wants to quit, then he should just quit!”

Even with possible death in the future, a potential mouth bleeding, and many other things, Haese is still adamant on keeping up with it for now.

“My father has been doing it for 37 years, he has nothing wrong with him. So therefore, I’m playing Russian roulette again and taking my chances.”

He presumes to be true that dipping is in a sense worth all of the negative aftermaths, due to the feeling it gives off.

“Well, if you get a really strong buzz you can feel it in your legs and you just get really relaxed.”

The difference between dipping, or chewing, compared to smoking tobacco is evident to Haese.

“I, in my lifetime, have smoked one cigarette and I did not get a buzz off of it. Dipping, I get a buzz off of.”

Overall though, according to Smith, dipping is not worth the temporary buzz.

“Socially, a person using smokeless tobacco could limit his ability to find a good job, as well as diminish his circle of friends, because more and more people find tobacco use to be unacceptable and even obnoxious.”

Dipping not only can affect someone personally, for if an illness is caused by it, close ones will suffer as well.

“As Ross was her only son, my sister was devastated. She spent a year and half doing nothing but taking care of her son hoping for a miracle that never came. I can’t imagine burying my own child, but to lose him or her for something that could have been avoided has to be even more painful. I hope to never see this kind of death in my family again. Believe me, it was hard to see such a young life be taken that way, ” Mehlbrech said.

Smith advices that next time someone puts a pinch in their mouth, they should think twice.

“I like this saying which I have used for many years: A word to the wise is sufficient.”





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  • K

    KILLTHECANSep 22, 2017 at 7:23 am

    Never try dip as I did and yeah it gives u a buzz but it goes away after six months of dipping and there u are left still dipping for no reason do this for u and quit while u still can before it is to late

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Dippin’ til death: The dangers of chewing tobacco and words of warning