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Smokeless tobacco use not declining among youths


Although declines in smoking by youths have been observed since the late 1990s, researchers have found no significant drop in the rate of smokeless tobacco use by that demographic, according to a report.

Israel T. Agaku, DMD, MPH, of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues analyzed recent trends in prevalence of smokeless tobacco use among youths using the 2000-2011 National Youth Tobacco Survey, a biennial national cross-sectional survey of U.S. middle school and high school students. Samples ranged from 35,828 students in 324 schools in 2000 to 18,866 students in 178 schools in 2011. Smokeless tobacco use was defined as use of snuff, chewing or dipping tobacco for one or more days within the past 30 days.

As reported in a research letter in the May 15 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, the researchers found that no significant change in overall smokeless tobacco prevalence occurred between 2000 (5.3%) and 2011 (5.2%). Downward trends were observed in the age groups of 9 to 11 and 12 to 14, however. Prevalence increased among youths ages 15 to 17.

The researchers wrote that while the prevalence of smokeless tobacco among U.S. youths generally remained low, “the use of modified traditional smokeless tobacco products, such as moist snuff, coupled with lower taxes on smokeless tobacco products (vs. cigarettes) may have contributed to the stable prevalence of smokeless tobacco (vs. the declining trend for cigarettes).

“These findings emphasize the need for evidence-based interventions to reduce smokeless tobacco use among youths.”

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