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Wyo., W.Va. lead US in chew tobacco use

Associated Press / November 5, 2010

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ATLANTA — Wyoming tops the nation in chewing-tobacco use, with nearly 1 in 6 adult men in that state using the product.

Government researchers found that men use chew, snus, and other smokeless products at much higher rates than women. In Wyoming and West Virginia, about 9 percent of all adults — both men and women — use smokeless tobacco.

The report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is one of the government’s first attempts to gather state-level statistics on smokeless tobacco. Past research suggests the national usage rate is around 2 percent.

The study is based on a telephone survey last year of more than 430,000 people in the 50 states. The survey asked people whether they smoked cigarettes or used smokeless tobacco.

Often people said yes to both. Many of the states with the highest smoking rates also had the highest use of smokeless tobacco products.

In Wyoming, for example, nearly 14 percent of smokers also used smokeless tobacco; among men, it was 23 percent.

Wyoming’s “rodeo culture’’ includes a tradition of chewing tobacco, one CDC official said.

California had the least smokeless tobacco use, with only a little more than 1 percent of adults in that state reporting that habit.

Health officials worry about smokeless tobacco, which they think may be a reason US smoking rates have stopped falling.

Their reasoning: As smokers face more workplace smoking bans, many of them — instead of quitting — are turning to chewing tobacco or snus to satisfy their nicotine addiction and get them through parts of the day.

Some health advocates note smokeless tobacco can cause oral and pancreatic cancer, and say it also increases the risk of fatal heart attack and stroke.

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