The Journal of Addiction did a study looking at more than 45,000 people who were sent to Iraq or Afghanistan from 2001 to 2006. Researchers looked at whether or not they were deployed and their use of smokeless tobacco.
The study found that NINE percent had been users of smokeless tobacco before they went to Iraq but another 2% who were not using tobacco, started using it. That means that close to 1,000 troops who were not using smokeless tobacco started using it.
Additionally, the study showed deployment with combat exposure was linked to a higher risk of taking up smokeless tobacco than just being deployed alone. That suggests to us that stress is playing a part in the decision-making process and has risks to their health.
Certainly smokeless tobacco use and its risks of gum inflammation, tooth loss and cancers of the mouth, lip, tongue are real risks and these may also be related to some marketing practices in this country. So, the bottom line is, we should be asking those who come back from the military about their use of smokeless tobacco. And if you have a loved one that’s come back from the military who is now using smokeless tobacco, they may want to talk with their primary care provider about ways of getting off that addiction.
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