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One year off chew and side effects are worth it

Friday, August 2, 2002
Adam Knapp, The Wichita Eagle
Column: Adam Knapp

Ladies and gentlemen, today's press conference is to recognize a very important anniversary for sportswriter Adam Knapp. It's been an entire year since he stopped chewing, breaking a 20-year tobacco habit. Congratulations, Adam. Would you like to make an opening statement?

Well, I can't believe I did it. I really can't. Tobacco was not only an addiction, it was a lifestyle. Chewing was just a really big part of my life, something that I looked forward to every day.

I've been skydiving. I've bungee jumped in the parking lot of a bar -- twice.
I held my son while he was getting circumcised. I've even watched an entire
episode of "Becker." But giving up chew was the hardest thing I've even done.

Adam, you had been chewing since you were 12 years old. Quite frankly,
it made everyone sick. How did you finally come to your decision to give it

It was an event that started at the NBC World Series last summer, sponsored
by the National Spit Tobacco Education Program. They had a free mouth cancer
screening right there by the entrance of Lawrence-Dumont Stadium. I didn't have
cancer, but I did have my two young children with me wondering what was going

I turned in my Skoal that day. A new can, even.

And now it's been a year.
How did you quit chewing?

Mainly with cigars and cigarettes.

Just kidding -- I haven't had any of that stuff either. How did I quit? First
of all, I put a lot of pressure on myself by announcing my intention to quit in
a column. I received about 20 e-mails that day and many more since, all of them
in support, many of them sympathizing with me. So far I've personally responded
to every one. How can I tell them I've started again?

So you couldn't have quit without that pressure?

Oh, I think I could have. There's a great website out there called that has all kinds
of testimonies and chat rooms from people who are going through the same thing
you are. The support is very comforting. It has a "Hall of Fame" for quitters
who have lasted 100 days.

It also has something called the "Cancer Gallery" with a lot of gory pictures
of victims. It's pretty horrendous stuff.

Did you chew gum or sunflowers
seeds, or did you just suck on a lump of tar?

Good one. For awhile, I had a real oral fixation on my hands. I chewed a lot
of gum. I also used a product called Smokey Mountain Chew, which is basically
ground root with stuff like ginseng in it. I'm off it now.

But most of all, I ate when I wanted to chew.

Were their any side effects
to quitting?

How about gaining 15 pounds in two weeks?

Then why did you quit?

Because I don't want to die.

Look, it's a stupid habit. And dangerous. Of all the ways to die, mouth
cancer would rank somewhere between a shark attack and Chinese water torture. I
wish I had never started, because even now I still occasionally crave the

But I can tell you the cravings get weaker as time goes on. Your life returns
to normal. I mean, I stepped up my exercise and dropped the extra weight. My
blood pressure is perfect. I'm less moody. My teeth are whiter. Life is

What would you say to people who are chewing now?

Get your butts down to Lawrence-Dumont Stadium today or Saturday, because
they're doing the free cancer screenings again.

In fact, the whole weekend at the NBC is going to have a tobacco prevention
feel to it, because NSTEP and the American Cancer Society have several
activities planned. Even if you aren't planning to quit, at least go and be
informed about the risks involved. It worked for me, big time.

Now quit hounding me, people. Don't you have a trial to cover or

Adam Knapp can be reached at or at 268-6284.
All content 2002 THE WICHITA EAGLE and may not be republished without permission.