The use of snus (moist snuff), a less negative attitude towards smoking and low self-esteem increase the risk of adolescents becoming smokers before they complete upper secondary school. Researchers at Umeå University, Center for Clinical Research Dalarna and Uppsala University, Sweden, claim this in a study in which they monitored the health development of a group of Swedish adolescents.
In the study researchers monitored approximately 1,000 Swedish adolescents for five years, from class seven to the third year in upper secondary school. The study shows that adolescents who start using snus at an early age, those who have a less negative attitude towards smoking and even those who have low self-esteem in year seven have a greater risk of becoming smokers when they leave upper secondary school. In accordance with the study which was published in the journal BMC Public Health, these adolescents have a three times greater risk of becoming smokers, compared to adolescents who have not tried snus.
Junia Joffer, postgraduate student at the Division of Epidemiology and Global Health, Umeå University, as well as researcher of public health issues at Dalarna County Council, is the main author of the study and believes that the connection between early use of snus and smoking at an older age is particularly interesting.
“In the study we see a clear connection between early use of snus and future smoking. Therefore it is important that we now broaden the debate on snus. Instead of the debate only focusing on the possible harmful effects of snus on the body or if snus can contribute to adults quitting smoking, it is important that we also take into account that using snus can actually increase the risk of adolescents becoming smokers,” says Junia Joffer.
She also believes that the results of the study are important as a basis in the tobacco preventative work and the finding of snus as a risk factor should be taken into account during the formulation of policy documents for tobacco use in society.
“Based on the results of the study, I believe that instead of talking about smoke-free school areas we must act to create completely tobacco-free school areas,” says Junia Joffer.
Junia Joffer has a Master's degree in public health sciences and is a postgraduate student at the Division of Epidemiology and Global Health, Umeå University. She works as a researcher of public health issues at the county council office, Dalarna County Council, in Ludvika and manages areas of her postgraduate studies at the Center for Clinical Research Dalarna.
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