Background: Tobacco use is a leading cause of global morbidity and mortality. Much of the epidemiologic research on tobacco focuses on smoking, especially cigarette smoking, but little attention on smokeless tobacco (SLT).
Methods: Using data from the Republic of Congo Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS) of 2006, we estimated the prevalence of SLT use among in-school adolescents. We also assessed the association between SLT use and cigarette smoking as well as the traditional factors which are associated with cigarette smoking among adolescents (e.g. age, sex, parental or peer smoking). Unadjusted odds ratios (OR) and adjusted odds ratios (AOR) together with their 95% confidence intervals (CI) were used to measure magnitudes of associations.
Results: Of the 3,034 respondents, 18.0% (18.0% males and 18.1% females) reported having used smokeless tobacco (chewing tobacco, sniff or dip) in the last 30 days. In multivariate analysis, no significant associations were observed between age and sex on one hand and current smokeless tobacco use on the other. Cigarette smokers were more than six times likely to report current use of smokeless tobacco (AOR = 6.65; 95% CI [4.84, 9.14]). Having parents or friends smokers was positively associated with using smokeless tobacco (AOR = 1.98; 95% CI [1.51, 2.59] for parents who smoked cigarettes, AOR = 1.82; 95% CI [1.41, 2.69] for some friends who smoked cigarettes, and AOR = 2.02; 95% CI [1.49, 2.47] for most or all friends who smoked cigarettes). Respondents who reported have seen tobacco advertisement on TV, billboards and in newspapers/magazines were 1.95 times more likely to report current use of smokeless tobacco (AOR = 1.95; 95% CI [1.34, 3.08]). Perception that smoking was harmful to health was negatively associated with current use of smokeless tobacco (AOR = 0.60; 95% CI [0.46, 0.78]).
Conclusions: Prevention programs aimed to reduce teen [cigarette] smoking must also be designed to reduce other forms of tobacco use. The teenagers environment at home, at school and at leisure must also be factored in order to prevent their uptake or maintenance of tobacco use.