TORONTO — Jamie unlaces his skates and prepares to decompress after a gruelling hockey practice.
The 16-year-old north Toronto student cools down as a shiny, colourful tin is passed around the changeroom.
They call it “dip” — another name for smokeless tobacco.
Sometimes the chewing tobacco alternates between regular, mint or wintergreen-flavoured.
More than half of Jamie’s friends — many of whom play hockey — often grab a chunk of the blackened, crushed leaves.
He says it’s a social thing.
“When we’re showering or on a road trip or hanging out, they’ll toss one in,” he said. “It’s got little (glass-like particles) in it that open tiny microscopic pores in your gum line, so the nicotine can diffuse into it. And it’s got lead — so obviously it’s super-bad, but addictive. It’s not so much the taste, it’s more that they like the head rush and stuff.”
While chewing tobacco is hardly new, a recently released study found students in Grades 6 to 12 are getting hooked by flavouring in tobacco.
According to a study released by the University of Waterloo, 46% of 117,000 students surveyed in 2010-11 used a form of flavoured tobacco within 30 days of the poll.
Of 54,200 youths that used flavoured tobacco, the study found cigarillos were the top choice, followed by menthol cigarettes, flavoured cigars, chewing tobacco and shisha (molasses-based tobacco).
The study’s author Steve Manske, a senior scientist at and research associate professor in Applied Health Sciences at the University of Waterloo, said the provincial and federal governments have left too many loopholes open to the tobacco industry.