Smokeless tobacco use among Native American school children

Public Health Rep. Mar-Apr 1990;105(2):196-201.


Seven published and two unpublished surveys of Native American school children's use of smokeless tobacco (ST) are reviewed. The surveys represent school children in the States of South Dakota, Montana, Nebraska, Washington, Arizona, New Mexico, and Alaska. This review describes and discusses the survey methods, prevalence, duration, and intensity of ST use, and ST health effects documented in these studies. Prevalence of regular ST use ranges from 18 percent in kindergartners through 6th graders to 55.9 percent among 9th and 10th graders. In two studies that surveyed kindergartners, regular use was reported at 13 percent in one study and 21 percent in the other. Comparisons to use by non-Native Americans, as reported in surveys, demonstrate the severity of the problem in Native American communities. There appear to be three significant findings related to Native American ST use: (a) young age of onset of ST use, (b) similar prevalence of use among adolescent boys and girls, and (c) higher overall prevalence of ST use when compared to non-Native American populations. Acceptance of the habit, peer pressure, and addiction seem to be contributing to the high ST use in Native American communities.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Humans
  • Indians, North American*
  • Leukoplakia, Oral / epidemiology
  • Leukoplakia, Oral / etiology
  • Male
  • Plants, Toxic
  • Population Surveillance / methods
  • Prevalence
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Tobacco, Smokeless
  • United States / epidemiology