Spit tobacco prevention and cessation counseling: Statewide survey of health-care professionals and educators

Alexander V. Prokhorov, David W. Wetter, Diana Padgett, Carl De Moor, Tao Le, Heather Kitzman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The use of spit tobacco (ST) products is a serious public health problem in the United States. Use of ST is associated with increased risk of oral cancer, gastrointestinal neoplasms, and other deleterious effects. The prevalence of ST use among adolescents is high in many areas, especially in predominantly rural states (e.g., South Dakota, Montana). Community-wide efforts aimed at prevention and cessation of ST use among young peopIe are needed. A total of 4089 clinicians and educators were surveyed in 1998 regarding their personal ST use and several other characteristics associated with ST prevention and cessation counseling. Educators reported significantly higher rates of ST use than did clinicians. The most prevalent barriers to ST counseling among clinicians were perceptions of patient resistance to referral to ST cessation programs and the lack of community services that effectively treat ST use. Lack of training was a major barrier to ST counseling among all educator subgroups. Although knowledge of the health effects of ST was fairly high among all subgroups, more than 10% of dentists and dental hygienists failed to report that ST use causes gum disease. Most clinicians believed that they should demonstrate leadership in efforts aimed at ST control; however, only 64% of dentists believed that repeated counseling attempts were necessary with patients who continued to use ST. Compared with clinicians, educators generally felt less obligated to provide ST counseling. Eighty percent of physicians reported counseling activities, but fewer than half of the dental professionals did. More than 75% of Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) officers reported having delivered ST counseling, whereas only 4% of volunteer leaders did. Fewer than 50% of educators believed that the ST program they taught was effective. Training of various professionals in ST interventions may benefit from emphasizing different issues (reduction of personal ST use, knowledge, commitment, etc.). Our findings have implications for community-based efforts aimed at controlling ST use among young people.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)171-197
Number of pages27
JournalSubstance Use and Misuse
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Clinicians
  • Counseling
  • Educators
  • Smokeless tobacco
  • Spit tobacco

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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