Many Teens Still Dipping

Smokeless tobacco use has remained steady among American teens for past decade

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) Teens have been smoking less in recent years, which is great. But overall, the use of smokeless tobacco has remained steady for over a decade.

In a recent study, researchers looked at trends in smokeless tobacco use among American adolescents.

The results of the study showed that younger adolescents have been using less smokeless tobacco, but older adolescents have been using more.

"Don’t use smokeless tobacco."

Israel T. Agaku, DMD, MPH, from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, led an investigation into the use of smokeless tobacco by US adolescents.

Smokeless tobacco products include snuff, chew and dip.

“Declines in smoking among youths were observed from the late 1990s...Howe​ver, limited information exists on trends in smokeless tobacco use among US youths,” said the study authors.

For this study, the researchers looked at the results of the National Youth Tobacco Survey between 2000 and 2011, which surveyed 35,828 students from 502 middle schools and high schools from all over the US.

The results of the study showed that in both 2000 and 2011, a total of 5 percent of adolescents reported using some form of smokeless tobacco. In other words, rates of smokeless tobacco use held steady.

The report showed that fewer kids between the ages of 9 and 14 were using smokeless tobacco in 2011 compared to in the year 2000. However, adolescents between the ages of 15 and 17 had increased their use of smokeless tobacco.

No significant changes were found between 2000 and 2011 in the rates of smokeless tobacco use by gender, race/ethnicity, high school location or in adolescents aged 18 and older.

The study authors speculated that the continued trend of 5 percent of US youths using smokeless tobacco products might have to do with the increases in taxes on cigarettes, but not on smokeless tobacco.

The authors noted that one limitation to this study could be the insufficient information on newer smokeless tobacco products that were not in mainstream use in the year 2000, such as snus and dissolvable tobacco products.

The authors said that the findings of this study emphasize the need for proven interventions to reduce the use of smokeless tobacco among teens.

This study was published in May in JAMA.

The National Cancer Institute provided funding for this study. No conflicts of interest were found.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
May 12, 2013
Last Updated:
August 13, 2013