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Tobacco chewing, snuff use rises

USE of snuff and chewing tobacco by adolescent boys in the United States, particularly in rural areas, has surged in the past decade, a federal agency said in a report released yesterday.

The use of such smokeless tobacco products increases the risk of oral cancer as well as heart disease and stroke. It leads to nicotine addiction just like cigarette smoking.

The report by the US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration showed a 30-percent increase in the rate of smokeless tobacco use among boys aged 12 to 17 from 2002 to 2007. Use by adults remained stable.

In 2007 the report estimated that 566,000 boys in that age group had used chewing tobacco or snuff.

"This trend toward more smokeless tobacco use by kids is of great concern," said Danny McGoldrick, from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

"This is an industry that has a history of targeting kids because they know that's when everybody starts," he added.

Among adolescent boys, the rate of use of smokeless tobacco rose from 3.4 percent in 2002 to 4.4 percent in 2007.

McGoldrick said the increase occurred as smokeless tobacco companies greatly increased their spending on marketing and introduced new products.

The findings reiterated the need for the US Food and Drug Administration to have the power to regulate tobacco products, as legislation being considered by would do, McGoldrick said.


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