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Prev Med. 1990 Mar;19(2):170-80.

Patterns of cigarette and smokeless tobacco use among children and adolescents.

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Division of Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Missouri Department of Health, Columbia 65203.


Although cigarette and smokeless tobacco use are recognized as major problems among school-age youth, few nationwide or statewide data exist on the prevalence and patterns of use. To determine the patterns of tobacco use among children and adolescents in Missouri, self-report information was obtained from a representative sample of 5,431 students in grades 5, 8, and 12. Both cigarette smoking and smokeless tobacco use were more common among males than females for each grade level except the 12th, where 30% of females and 28% of males had smoked during the previous week. Smoking prevalence was considerably lower among blacks than whites. Smokeless tobacco use was rare among both blacks and females. Smokeless tobacco use was more common than cigarette smoking in rural areas, where 17% of 8th-grade males and 31% of 12th-grade males had used smokeless tobacco during the previous week. The mean age at first use of cigarettes was slightly lower in the rural than the urban area, whereas the mean age of initial smokeless tobacco use was more than a year earlier in the rural area. Data regarding the perceived difficulty of quitting smoking and quit rates suggested that adolescent females have more difficulty quitting smoking than males. Male smokeless tobacco users appeared to be more addicted than male cigarette smokers. Smokeless tobacco brand preference indicated that users may switch to progressively stronger types of smokeless tobacco as they get older and a nicotine tolerance is developed. The current study emphasizes the urgent need for carefully targeted tobacco prevention and cessation efforts among school-age youth.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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