Smokeless Tobacco ~ Snuff, Dip, Plugs, Chew, Snus, et al

Jackson's Best Chewing Tobacco [front]
Jackson’s Best Chewing Tobacco [front] (Photo credit: Boston Public Library)

“Never slap a man who chews tobacco.” Willard Scott

Smokeless tobacco is in the news this week…

Whether you call it snuff, dip, chew or any other colloquial term, smokeless tobacco is deadly and its use has stayed steady between 2005 and 2010. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) had hoped for better news, given the effort mounted to discourage its use. In 2011 Major League Baseball limited the use of “chew” and for good reasons, as reported by ESPN:

“Players have agreed not to carry tobacco packages and tins in their back pockets when fans are permitted in the ballpark, or use tobacco during pregame or postgame interviews, and at team functions. But the restrictions fall short of the call by some advocates, including members of Congress, who argued that a ban on chewing tobacco and dip during games was needed to protect impressionable kids watching on TV.”

Now almost three years later, players are having trouble shaking their habit. According to The Boston Globe of March 7, 2014:

Smokeless tobacco use stubbornly remains a part of baseball, even though Major League Baseball has tried to discourage its use for the last few years because it is known to increase the risk of cancer. While smokeless tobacco use is not as prevalent in baseball as it was several years ago, a survey of the 58 Red Sox players invited to spring training this year found 21 who admitted to using it.

CDC issues their Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR)

The CDC’s June 6, 2014, MMWR was titled “Smokeless Tobacco Use Among Working Adults – United States, 2005 and 2010.”

Reuter’s reported on the findings, as of 2010:

  • The prevalence of smokeless tobacco use among working adults was 3%
  • This rate exceeded the Healthy People 2020 target of <0.3%
  • Cigarette smoking among working adults dropped from 22.2% in 2005 to 19.1% in 2010
  • Smokeless tobacco among working adults increased from 2.7% in 2005 to 3.0% in 2010
  • Highest use of smokeless tobacco was among white males ages 25 to 44, people with no more than a high school education and those living in the South and Midwest

Taking proactive steps to discourage children from starting with smokeless tobacco

Reuter’s interviewed Lucy Popova. She is with the Center for Tobacco Control research and Education at the University of California, San Francisco. While she was not involved in the CDC’s study, she welcomes the information and points out that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has a program called The Real Cost Campaign and the FDA is planning to add a new component to this program that will target smokeless tobacco use.

High schools and colleges are attempting to enforce rules that sanction athletes for substance use and abuse of all types, including tobacco. High school baseball players are more apt to use smokeless tobacco, with one 2011 study reporting that 34 to 40% of high school baseball players use chewing tobacco.

Remember to share this information with your family and friends: Smokeless tobacco causes cancers of the oral cavity, esophagus, and pancreas.

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