Prevalence, patterns, and correlates of spit tobacco use in a college athlete population

Addict Behav. 1994 Jul-Aug;19(4):411-27. doi: 10.1016/0306-4603(94)90064-7.


We surveyed varsity athletes (N = 1,328) in 16 California colleges about their patterns of spit (smokeless) tobacco (ST) use, related habits, reasons for use, and preferred methods for quitting. Prevalence of use was analyzed by sport and demographic characteristics, and patterns of use in players using snuff exclusively, using chewing tobacco exclusively, and those using both were compared. Odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals were calculated, adjusting for ethnic group. Prevalence was highest in Whites (44%) and Native Americans (48%) and lowest in African Americans (11%), and higher in varsity baseball (52%) than varsity football players (26%), in players attending rural colleges, and among those who ever smoked cigarettes or used alcohol. Forty-one percent of ST users initiated regular use during their high school years. Athletes who used snuff exclusively used it more intensively and for more years than those who used chewing tobacco exclusively. Snuff users indicated a greater perceived need for ST, but also were more ready to quit. These data suggest ST programs with prevention and cessation components are appropriate for high school as well as college athletes. Such interventions should focus on baseball players, distinguish snuff from chewing tobacco users in planning quit strategies, integrate intervention programs for cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption, provide training in refusal skills, and attempt to change social norms in support of ST use by integrating popular peers and significant others (e.g., wives/girlfriends) to endorse nonuse of ST.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Baseball / psychology
  • Baseball / statistics & numerical data*
  • California / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Football / psychology
  • Football / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / psychology
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / rehabilitation