Prevalence, patterns, and correlates of spit tobacco use in a college athlete population

Addictive Behaviors
Margaret M WalshD Grady


We surveyed varsity athletes (N = 1,328) in 16 California colleges about their patterns of spit (smokeless) tobacco (ST) use, related habits, reasons for use, and preferred methods for quitting. Prevalence of use was analyzed by sport and demographic characteristics, and patterns of use in players using snuff exclusively, using chewing tobacco exclusively, and those using both were compared. Odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals were calculated, adjusting for ethnic group. Prevalence was highest in Whites (44%) and Native Americans (48%) and lowest in African Americans (11%), and higher in varsity baseball (52%) than varsity football players (26%), in players attending rural colleges, and among those who ever smoked cigarettes or used alcohol. Forty-one percent of ST users initiated regular use during their high school years. Athletes who used snuff exclusively used it more intensively and for more years than those who used chewing tobacco exclusively. Snuff users indicated a greater perceived need for ST, but also were more ready to quit. These data suggest ST programs with prevention and cessation components are appropriate for high school as well as college athletes. Such interventions should focus on baseball players, di...Continue Reading


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