In 2002, about 9,000 South African youth took part in the South African Global Youth Tobacco Use Survey (GYTUS), led by the Medicine Research Council. In analysing survey results, Dr Bukola Olutola of  Univeristy of Pretoria’s department of community dentistry found high levels of smokeless tobacco use among young black women.

The results also showed that adolescents who started using smokeless tobacco were just as like to progress to cigarette use as people who first started using cigarettes, according to Olutola, who presented her findings at the Public Health Association of South Africa’s conference in Cape Town on Thursday.

According to Olutola, this indicates that smokeless tobacco does not prevent the use of cigarettes among adolescents. Similar research conducted among Ghanianan adolescends surveyed as part of a Ghana’s GYTUS also suggested that smokeless tobacco use led to to cigarette smoking.

Both studies also found that children were more likely to smoke if parents or friends did. Similar findings were drawn from recent research in  Zambia, where children exposed to smoking in the home were more than three times as likely to become smokers, according to the national GYTUS. – Health-e News Service.