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Smokeless Tobacco Use on Rise Among Youngsters

Update Date: Dec 20, 2012 03:12 PM EST

According to a new report from the Department of Public Health, there has been a decrease in the number of student smokers in California, but apparently, there is also rise in the number of students increasingly getting dependent on the usage of smokeless tobacco.

Smokeless tobacco refers to a number of tobacco products that are used by means other than smoking, including chewing, sniffing, applying on the skin etc.

The usage of tobacco among students in California is rising at an alarming rate with 9 percent of stores statewide illegally selling it minors, up from 5.6 percent last year.

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Cigarette smoking is also most common in youngsters between the age groups of 18 and 24, more than any other age group in California.

"Youth and young adults get addicted to tobacco, end up smoking their entire lives, and then they and their families suffer the consequences," DPH Director Dr. Ron Chapman was quoted as saying by ABC7 News.

Although the reason behind youngsters rapidly picking up the habit is not known, the researchers did note that the schools in neighborhoods with five or more tobacco selling stores had a high rate of smokers.

Also, smokeless tobacco products are also swiftly becoming popular with about 4 percent of high school students using them, the report said.

"The smokeless tobacco products are not safer," Dr. Chapman said. "The trends, again, are very concerning."

When asked, students told ABC7 News that the smoked due to dtress of work, education costs, juggling jobs, etc.

"School, trying to find a college, worrying about money and then jobs," smoker Spencer Douglas said. "I have three jobs right now. So all of that was like a lot of pressure on me."

Most of the young smokers said they had started smoking in high-school.

According to the state, for every one dollar that it spends on anti-smoking campaigns, the tobacco industry spends eight to attract more smokers, ABC 7 News reported.

"The illegal sale of tobacco to minors is a serious issue and we are committed to working with retailers and inform the public in order to stop these practices," Dr. Chapman said. "The tobacco industry's advertising tactics towards a younger audience is disturbing and shameful. It is startling that the tobacco industry spends nearly $1 million every hour to market their products nationwide."

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