The Big Story Blog

Snus and other emerging worries on teen tobacco use

Posted at 9:18 AM on December 6, 2011 by Paul Tosto
Filed under: Health

When it comes to teen tobacco use, cigarettes still dominate. The latest Minnesota Health Department survey on teen tobacco use, though, makes it clear there are other products out there equally as worrisome.

Snus, for instance, has been an ongoing concern the past few years. It's a moist, smokeless tobacco that comes in a pouch resembling a tiny teabag. New to the market in 2008, the Health Department survey shows one in seven high school students having tried snus at least once with 5 percent using it recently.

Other non-cigarette worries:

Flavored cigarillos and little cigars. These have been around for awhile but the department says the number of flavors has risen the past few years, adding:

More than one‐fourth of high school students (28.6%) and 6.8 percent of middle school students report that they have tried flavored cigars, cigarillos or little cigars at some point in their lives. The FDA recently banned candy flavors, fruit flavors, chocolate and other sweet flavors in cigarettes, but not in cigar products.  

Menthol Cigarettes About half of teen smokers usually smoke menthol cigarettes and the reported preference has more than doubled since 2000. The department writes:

Menthol appears to make it easier for young people to
start smoking. The Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee of the Food
and Drug Administration concluded that: "Removal of menthol cigarettes from
the marketplace would benefit public health in the United States." The FDA is
now considering whether to ban menthol in cigarettes.

BONUS: Here's a chart from the Centers for Disease Control showing smoking and smokeless tobacco use among adults aged 18 years or older in 2009.


About Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto writes the Big Story Blog for MPR News. He joined the newsroom in 2008 after more than 20 years reporting on education, politics and the economy for news wires and newspapers across the country.

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