Smokeless tobacco remains one of the leading preventable causes of death in America. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 3% of adults are users of smokeless tobacco. It is more common in men (6%) than in women (0.4%).
Studies have shown that smokeless tobacco use is higher in white American Indians or Alaska natives, residents of western and southern states and people with lower education level. Reports have suggested that the use of ST which was quite high among adults in between 1970-1991 have declined slowly and steadily in the recent years. According to the National Health Interview Survey 1987-2000, the largest decline was noted among 18-24 age-group and those aged 65 years and older.
It is estimated that of the 10 million users of smokeless tobacco, 3 million are below the age of 21. Of these young users, about 25% start using ST by the 6th grade and the remaining 75% start by the 9th grade. It is also reported that 8% of youth between 9-12 grades use ST at least once every month and 2-3% consume it on a daily basis. It is suggested that those who consume smokeless tobacco are prone to smoke later.
Role of Tobacco Industry
Tobacco industry is targeting young men and boys with innovative marketing strategies. They are using popular youth icons, with macho image , like National Football league stars to promote their new product lines. In 2003, one in three major league baseball players were smokeless tobacco users. As a result of which aggressive campaigning, the total U.S. yearly consumption of spitting tobacco, particularly moist snuff has jumped from 99 million pounds to 125 million pounds.
Due to smoking bans in several states in the United States, new smokeless tobacco products are being advertised in places where smoking is not allowed. Currently, moist snuff, sachets and loose leaf tobacco are in high demand. Fortunately, there is decline in the use of dry snuff, plug and twist.