Smokeless Tobacco Use

Use of smokeless tobacco products (snuff, chewing tobacco, and other oral tobacco products) among adolescents has always been much less common than cigarette smoking, but has experienced a slight increase in recent years (Johnston, O’Malley, Bachman, & Schulenberg, 2010).  Among adolescents, frequent users of these products are much more likely than non-users to use alcohol and other drugs (Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, 2011),  as well as to become cigarette smokers, than those who do not use these products (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2010).  Among the newer forms of oral tobacco products are pouches, orbs, strips, and sticks.  Most of these are designed to dissolve in the user’s mouth, and are offered in candy-like flavors. However, they all contain potent toxins that can lead to cancer and other serious diseases.

One may refer to YRBS data to identify aggregate-level benchmarks for different grade-levels, genders, and racial/ethnic groups. For example, 2009 YRBS data suggest that, among 9th graders, the prevalence of 30-day smokeless tobacco use is 7.2 percent (3.2 among females and 10.7 among males).  Referring to these data, programs working with this grade level may, for example, aim for no more than 5 percent of participants in the program reporting smokeless tobacco use in the past 30 days. 

For most programs, it is reasonable to expect that the percent of youth reporting smokeless tobacco use in the past 30 days will increase over time, since older youth are more likely to use it. The best way to gauge your program’s success is therefore to compare with data for the same age group from a source like the YRBS. If you find that the percent of youth who report recent smokeless tobacco use increases significantly while in your program, however, you may want to assess the fidelity and quality of service delivery (see Managing Service Delivery).

 

Sources Cited

Johnston, L. D., O’Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G., & Schulenberg, J. E. (2010). Monitoring the Future: National results on adolescent drug use: Overview of key findings, 2010. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Retrieved February 16, 2011, from http://www.monitoringthefuture.org/pubs/monographs/mtf-overview2010.pdf

Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. (2011). Smokeless tobacco and kids. Retrieved March 30, 2011, from http://www.tobaccofreekids.org/research/factsheets/pdf/0003.pdf

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, & National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. (2010). Health topics: Tobacco use and the health of young people. Retrieved February 16, 2011, from http://www.cdc.gov/HealthyYouth/tobacco/facts.htm

Additional Resources

Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. (2011). Smokeless tobacco and kids. Retrieved March 30, 2011, from http://www.tobaccofreekids.org/research/factsheets/pdf/0003.pdf

Office of Adolescent Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.hhs.gov/ash/oah/adolescent-health-topics/substance-abuse/tobacco.html