Prevalence of cigarette and smokeless tobacco use among students in rural Oregon.Fam Med 1995; 27(2):122-5FM
Although smoking and smokeless tobacco use are recognized as major problems among school-age youth, few studies report on tobacco use in rural areas, especially remote rural areas.
A self-report questionnaire was administered to all junior and senior high school students from a frontier rural community.
A total of 393 students completed the questionnaire. Of the 393, 39% had tried chewing tobacco at least once. High school males were the heaviest users, and more than 50% of those males who had ever chewed were still current users (33% of the town's high school males). Seven percent of the town's high school females used chewing tobacco, one of the country's highest reported rates of use at the time of this study. In addition, 39% of all the students had also smoked cigarettes. High school females reported the highest prevalence of ever having smoked (52%) and also had the highest prevalence of current smoking (13.5%). The number of students who had ever tried any form of tobacco use and the number who were current users were significantly higher in the high school than the junior high school. More than half of the students who smoked or chewed reported having close friends who also use tobacco products.
The high rate of female smokers and male chewers in senior high is consistent with other studies. The rate of female chewing tobacco use is unusually high. Isolated rural communities have significant adolescent tobacco abuse, and prevention and treatment strategies need to be developed for this special population.