I've chewed Copenhagen since I was about 18. So, for something like 28 years I've basically never been without at least one can of chew nearby. I can't tell you whatever inspired me to start. I don't remember any particular peer pressure. My dad and other childhood influences didn't chew, at least not that I was aware of.

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And I never really got into the whole wanna-be "cowboy" phase either, where many of my peers pretended to be Western. This was right about the time Hot Country music was making a big scene. "You live in a subdivision," I remember thinking when my pals would roll up in their pickups, decked out in Roper boots and those hideous Brooks and Dunn style, flamed-out shirts that were so popular in the '90s. Remember these? Ugh.

Credit: Seller IDKVintage at Mercari
Credit: Seller IDKVintage at Mercari

Honestly, I like Copenhagen. Long Cut, specifically. I like the way it tastes, the way it smells, the way it goes great with a beer. The can states, "satisfaction since 1822" and you're darn right, it IS satisfying, I'd tell myself. Over the years there were periods of time when I would smoke cigarettes AND chew tobacco. Not usually at the exact same time, but both would be part of my day. Perhaps just a wee bit of a nicotine addiction? The cigarettes were only at work (never at home or on the weekends around the wife and kids), although I'm sure anyone with a nose could smell the lingering odor of tobacco smoke on my hair and clothing.

You can't quit until you're ready to quit. This seems to be the biggie for me. No amount of nagging from your primary care physician, spouse, or relatives can make you do anything unless you really want to for yourself. I'm the last person to tell you what to do, but if you need some encouragement, here are some of the main reasons why I'm finally kicking the Copenhagen can to the curb:

  • Health. Duh. I justify chewing tobacco in my head because it's "surely less dangerous than cigarettes," but that's mostly a myth and we all know it. I'm ready to stop worrying about mouth or esophageal cancer, gum disease or losing teeth.
  • Expense. Copenhagen gradually passed the $5 a can price-point a few years ago and now you're lucky to find it under $6. Still cheaper than cigs, but it adds up. My three-can-a-week habit equates to about $1,000 a year.
  • It's not satisfying anymore. Despite the can's branding, Copenhagen has lost its appeal. I'm tired of panicking at night when my can is almost gone, making sure I don't forget to pick up another on the way to work in the morning. I'm tired of my bottom lip feeling like it got roughed up with 60 grit sandpaper.
  • For my kids. The cliched reason, for sure. But I had kids fairly late in the game and if I want to see them get married someday, I hope to be in the wedding pictures with my jaw, tongue, teeth, mouth and esophagus intact.

If you need help quitting, the Montana Tobacco Quit Line offers a number of free resources. I'm looking forward to telling my doctor "No" next year when she asks if I still chew or smoke.

Goosebumps and other bodily reactions, explained


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