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Indiana State Department of Health

Smokeless Tobacco USe Smokeless Tobacco USe

Just The Facts

  • Smokeless tobacco refers to moist oral snuff, dry oral and nasal snuff, and chewing tobacco. Smokeless tobacco is commonly used by youths, particularly those in rural areas, and it is highly addictive.1
  • Rural Indiana youth use smokeless tobacco at twice the rate reported by non-rural youth. In 1997, 22% of rural 8th graders had tried smokeless tobacco and 10% were regular users.2
  • In all racial/ethnic minority groups except African Americans, men are more likely than women to use smokeless tobacco.3
  • African American adolescent males are substantially less likely than white adolescent males to use smokeless tobacco.4
  • For whites, the strongest predictor of the amount of the smokeless tobacco used was peers' use of smokeless tobacco,5
  • For African Americans, the strongest predictor of the amount of smokeless tobacco used was previous use of alcoholic beverages and cigarettes6
  • Considerable nicotine is absorbed from smokeless tobacco. An average systemic dose of nicotine is 3.6 mg for snuff, 4.6 mg for chewing tobacco, and 1.8 mg for cigarettes.7
  • The prevalence of moist snuff use by youths has risen dramatically; with a 10-fold increase for 16 to 19 year olds between 1970 and 1985.
  • There was a brief reduction in 1986-87, but sales of smokeless tobacco products are now increasing, with a 70% overall increase in moist snuff sales from 1982 to 1992.
  • National data compiled from several large-scale, U.S. studies indicate that 10 million to 12 million people are smokeless tobacco users.
  • Smokeless tobacco is not a healthful alternative to cigarette.
  • Use of smokeless tobacco can result in oral pathologies including leukoplakia, gingival recession, caries, abrasion, and staining.
  • Use of smokeless tobacco can cause oral cancer.
  • The prevalence of current* smokeless tobacco use among U.S. high school students in grades 9-12 in 1997 was 9.3% with the highest use among white male students (20.6%).
  • In Indiana in 1997, prevalence of current* smokeless tobacco use among high school students in grades 9-12 in 1997 was: 9th grade: 9.8%, 10th grade: 12.3%, 11th grade: 12.0%, 12th grade: 13.5%. This marked the third consecutive year in which there were significant decreases in the use of smokeless tobacco.

1Boyd, G.M., Glover, E.D. "Smokeless Tobacco Use By Youth in the U.S., "Journal of School Health, Vol.59, No. 5, 1989, pp. 189-94. 2 Rural Indiana Profile, "Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs," Drug Strategies. 1998, p. 5. 3 "Tobacco Use Among U.S. Racial/Ethnic Minority Groups, "A Report of the Surgeon General, 1998. 4 Benowitz, N.D., et al, "Nicotine Absorption and Cardiovascular Affects with Smokeless Tobacco Use," Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Vol. 44, No. 1, 1988, pp. 23-28. 5 Riley, W.T., et al., "The role of Race and Ethnic Status on the Psychosocial Correlates of Smokeless Tobacco Use in Adolescent Males," Journal of Adolescent Health Vol. 12, No. 1, 1991, pp. 15-21.6 Ibid. 7 Benowitz, N.D., et al., "Nicotine Absorption and Cardiovascular Affects with Smokeless Tobacco Use".