(HealthDay News) – The prevalence of smokeless tobacco use among young people remained unchanged from 2000–2011, with decreases noted in use among younger children and middle school students, according to a research letter published in the May 15 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Israel T. Agaku, DMD, MPH, from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues used data from the 2000–2011 National Youth Tobacco Survey for U.S. middle and high school students to examine recent trends in the prevalence of smokeless tobacco use. Samples ranged from 35,828 students in 324 schools in 2000 (response rate, 72.7%) to 18,866 students in 178 schools in 2011 (response rate, 84.1%).

The researchers found that the overall smokeless tobacco prevalence did not change significantly from 2000 (5.3%) to 2011 (5.2%). For children aged 9–11 years and 12–14 years, significant downward trends were observed (average annual percentage change [AAPC], -4.6 and -3.4, respectively). There was an increase in prevalence among those aged 15–17 years (AAPC, 0.9). Among middle school students, the prevalence decreased from 2000–2011 (AAPC, -4.1), while no significant difference was seen among high school students.

“The prevalence of smokeless tobacco use among U.S. youths did not change between 2000 and 2011 and remained generally low,” the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to Pfizer.

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