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Donald Miller Quits Chewing Tobacco

Donald Miller writes in his book Searching For God Knows What:

Several years ago, I chewed tobacco: Long-cut Wintergreen Skoal. I know, I know, it was terrible for me. It causes cancer of the mouth and is bad for your heart and your breath, and girls are never going to want to kiss you if you chew that stuff. I knew all that for years, and yet I couldn't kick the habit—mainly because I didn't want to. The tobacco gave me a little buzz and helped me relax.

But I tried to stop. I went to Web sites and looked up statistics about the health risks of chewing tobacco. I printed the statistics and placed them on my desk where I could read them when I was tempted. But it didn't help. I still bought a can of the stuff every other time I gassed up my car. This went on for at least a year, until….

I was listening to the radio one afternoon, editing a chapter in a previous book, when a voice came on, very distorted and troubled. The man sounded as though part of his face were missing—low and muffled and slobbery. Between songs, the radio station had inserted a commercial, a public service message about the danger of using chewing tobacco. The man in the commercial said half his jaw had been removed, that he had no lower lip, and the reason his face was deformed was because for years he had used smokeless tobacco. He didn't list any facts, he didn't speak of any harmful ingredients, he didn't say he was going to die of cancer. And yet the image of a man without a chin speaking into the microphone was enough to convince me to stop. I never used the stuff again. I just didn't want to.

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