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Smokeless tobacco use up among state’s teens

A new survey shows that Arkansas ranks second in the nation for smokeless tobacco use among youth.

According to a Youth Risk Behavior Survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 14.8 percent of Arkansas youth used smokeless tobacco in 2013; this rate is an increase from the 2011 rate of 11.6 percent and well above the national rate of 8.8 percent.

“With the rates of smokeless tobacco use on the rise in Arkansas, specifically among youth, it is important that we educate everyone on the dangers associated with its use,” said Dr. Gary Wheeler, medical director of the Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program. “In as little as three years of use, 60 to 78 percent of smokeless tobacco users develop oral lesions, with a 7 to 10 percent chance that those lesions will develop into cancer. Additionally, smokeless users are at a higher risk for other health issues such as heart disease, stomach problems and decreased physical performance.”

These new statistics, along with information about the impact of smokeless tobacco on athletes, reinforce the need for tobacco control advocates to intensify efforts to prevent initiation of smokeless tobacco use among youth and encourage current users to quit.

The Arkansas Tobacco Quitline offers a variety of individual-specific resources to help current users quit tobacco; including nicotine replacement therapy, unlimited web coaching and phone calls with a trained Quit Coach.

Current tobacco users interested in quitting can call the Arkansas Tobacco Quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW or visit stampoutsmoking.com for more information.

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