Tobacco use is associated with numerous illnesses and contributes to as many as 400,000 deaths in the United States each year. Most tobacco use in the United States is in the form of cigarette smoking, but smokeless tobacco use is particularly high in certain areas and within certain subpopulations. Among US adults, smokeless tobacco use is associated with low socioeconomic status, male sex, Native American race, and southern or rural residence. We review six studies among adults (> or = 18 years) describing the epidemiology of smokeless tobacco use in the southeastern United States. These studies indicate that the Southeast, with its strong ties to tobacco production, is an area that requires intensive tobacco cessation strategies targeting the use of smokeless tobacco as well as cigarettes.