Spit Tobacco Facts

* Some consider spit tobacco, also known as smokeless tobacco, to be a safe alternative to smoking cigarettes. In reality, the use of smokeless tobacco can cause attrition of tooth structure, staining, halitosis, periodontal disease, leukoplakia and cancer of the mucous membranes.

* Smokeless tobacco is defined as tobacco that is used either orally or through the nasal cavity. There are two primary forms of smokeless tobacco which are generally referred to as "snuff" and "chewing tobacco."

* Snuff is composed of finely ground tobacco which can be either moist or dry. It is most commonly used orally by placing a portion or "dip" in between the lip and gum and holding it in place for a prolonged period of time. Snuff may also be used by snorting it through the nose.

* Chewing tobacco usually is shredded or loose-leaf tobacco, but can also be found as dried bricks or twisted strands. It is primarily used orally by placing it into the mouth and chewing. It is often held in the mouth for prolonged periods of time.

* Regardless of the way it is used, smokeless tobacco contains known carcinogens and varying concentrations of the highly addictive drug nicotine. The average nicotine content in one "dip" of snuff is approximately four times that of one cigarette.

* Between the years 1970 and 1987, smokeless tobacco use among young men increased steadily, with a 40% increase in the use of moist snuff. Data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture substantiates a decline in the production of cigarettes and an almost three-fold increase in the production of smokeless tobacco products over the same time period.

* The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's 1995 Youth Risk Behavior Survey reported that about 20% of male high school students used smokeless tobacco.

* Data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System indicates that the prevalence of smokeless tobacco use in Texas is approximately 4.6% (9% among males and less than 1% for females).

* The 1994 Texas School Survey on Substance Abuse found that the average age for initiation of use is 10 years old, and that 29% of secondary school students reported ever having used smokeless tobacco.

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