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Levels Of Smokeless Tobacco Use Increase Among Adolescent Males

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

The levels of current smokeless tobacco use increased significantly among adolescent males (aged 12 to 17) from 3.4 percent in 2002 to 4.4 percent in 2007, according to a report based on a series of nationwide surveys. This report shows that the rate of current use of smokeless tobacco (i.e., use within the past month) among the whole population aged 12 and older has remained relatively stable during the same period (in the range of 3.0 to 3.3 percent).

Smokeless Tobacco Use, Initiation and Relationship to Cigarette Smoking: 2002 to 2007 highlights the use of smokeless tobacco among persons aged 12 and older. Overall, 7.8 million people aged 12 years or older reported using smokeless tobacco in the past month in 2007.

Among the study’s most notable findings:

* Among current smokeless tobacco users, 85.8 percent used cigarettes at some time in their lives, and 38.8 percent used cigarettes in the past month.

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* Among persons who had used both smokeless tobacco and cigarettes in their lifetime, 31.8 percent started using smokeless tobacco first, 65.5 percent started using cigarettes first, and 2.7 percent initiated use of smokeless tobacco and cigarettes at about the same time.

* Males were more likely than females to be current smokeless tobacco users (6.2 vs. 0.4 percent).

Some smokers may think of switching to smokeless tobacco as a way to quit smoking, but this report indicates that among daily smokers who initiated smokeless tobacco use, 88.1 percent were still smoking daily 6 months later.

“These findings and the medical literature indicate that using smokeless tobacco is not a safe alternative to cigarette smoking,” said SAMHSA Acting Administrator Eric Broderick, D.D.S., M.P.H. “We need to make everyone aware that all forms of tobacco use can cause nicotine addiction, cancer and death.”

Smokeless tobacco products consist of tobacco or a tobacco blend that is chewed, placed in the oral cavity outside the gums, or inhaled or snorted through the nose rather than smoked. The use of smokeless tobacco has been associated with a wide range of health risks including various cancers, a number of non-cancerous oral conditions, as well as nicotine addiction and dependence.

The report is drawn from SAMHSA’s 2002 through 2007 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) which collected data from a total sample of approximately 405,000 persons representative of the United States civilian, non-institutionalized population aged 12 or older.