Background: Compared with smoking, there is much less information about smokeless tobacco (ST) use in the United States. The purpose of this study is to characterize and compare ST use among American men in 2000 and 2005.
Methods: We used US National Health Interview Surveys from 2000 and 2005 to estimate the prevalence of ST use, describe the demographic and socioeconomic profile of ST users and evaluate ST use according to product type and with respect to smoking.
Results: The prevalence of ST use among American men was 4.4% in 2000 and 4.3% in 2005. Almost all ST users were white, about half were 25–44 years old and 80% lived in the South or Midwest, commonly in small metropolitan and rural areas. Educational and income levels of ST users were lower than those of never users of tobacco. One-third of ST users also smoked; cigarette consumption was lower among dual users than among exclusive smokers. In 2005, 1.3 million current ST users were former smokers but 3.2 million smokers were former ST users. ST users were evenly distributed between snuff (43%) and chewing tobacco (44%) in 2000 and 13% used both products. By 2005 snuff use was clearly dominant.
Conclusions: The prevalence of ST use among men is low but stable; dual use of cigarettes and ST is common, and snuff has become the dominant ST product.