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J Community Health. 2013 Aug;38(4):750-2. doi: 10.1007/s10900-013-9674-0.

Smokeless tobacco: how exposed are our schoolchildren?

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Immigrant Health and Cancer Disparities Service, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, 300 East 66th St, 15th floor, New York, NY 10065, USA.


The use of smokeless tobacco (ST) is linked to poor health outcomes, including oral and esophageal cancers. Adolescents who use ST are also more likely to use cigarettes and develop lung cancer later in life. Evidence shows that proximity to tobacco retailers increases youth initiation of use. We assessed availability of ST in neighborhoods surrounding ten high schools in New York City. Three hundred and twenty-one retailers were visited. Sixty-three percent of likely tobacco-selling businesses surrounding schools sold cigarettes. About 20 % sold snus, while 3 % sold snuff. Culturally-linked ST products, such as paan and gutka, were largely confined to ethnic neighborhoods, while snuff was more prevalent in neighborhoods with predominantly US born residents. A variety of ST products are easily accessible to adolescents and are located within close proximity to schools, perhaps facilitating use, as has been documented with youth smoking. Further research is needed on adolescent use of culturally-linked ST products. This research can serve as a foundation for development of interventions to reduce ST use among adolescents and for policy recommendations.

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