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Athletic scholars are opting for chew, moist snuff or dip smokless tobacco products thinking that it is less harmful than cigarettes, when in actual fact it is not.

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High school athletes may be getting the message that cigarettes are bad for their health, but the same can’t be said for smokeless tobacco, a new government report shows.

In fact, these young athletes were almost 80 percent more likely to use smokeless tobacco products than non-athletes, researchers from the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention found.

Among high school athletes, the use of smokeless tobacco such as chew, moist snuff or dip increased from 10 percent in 2001 to more than 11 percent in 2013. Meanwhile, the use of smokeless tobacco remained roughly the same among non-athletes, hovering at 6 percent.

During that same period, the use of cigarettes and cigars dropped significantly among all high school students, from 31.5 percent to 19.5 percent, the report showed.

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