Israel T. Agaku, Dr. Constantine I. Vardavas, Hillel R. Alpert and Gregory N. Connolly, all of the Center for Global Tobacco Control, Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard School of Public Health in Boston; and Olalekan A. Ayo-Yusuf of the Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Pretoria in South Africa said the findings counter the idea smokeless tobacco products help reduce the health problems associated with tobacco use.
The study, published online ahead of the September print edition of the journal Pediatrics, found 5.6 percent of students in grades 6-12 said they used a form of smokeless tobacco.
Among all students, 5 percent used chewing tobacco, snuff or dip; 1.9 percent used snus and 0.3 percent used dissolvable tobacco products, the study said.
About 72 percent of students who used smokeless tobacco products smoked cigarettes at the same time.
Only 40 percent expressed an intent to quit all tobacco use, but students who used smokeless tobacco products were more likely to perceive tobacco as less harmful.
The study authors concluded the findings pointed to a need for stronger health warnings on smokeless tobacco products and other interventions to prevent adolescent use of all tobacco products.