“Country Boys Spit and Dip”: Masculinity and Rural Adolescent Smokeless Tobacco Use

Donald W. Helme, Edward Morris, Ana de la Serna, Carina Zelaya, Carrie Oser, Hannah K. Knudsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


While tobacco use nationwide is declining, smokeless tobacco (SLT) use remains steady, particularly among men in rural areas. Despite the harms of SLT, researchers know little about what initiates and sustains this use. In this study, we argue that SLT persistence is encouraged by its salience as an emblem of rural manhood. Based on interviews with 64 male and 19 female rural high school students we find that SLT symbolizes rural masculinity, and that many boys “spit and dip” to perform their status as rural men. We specify several peer, family, and community mechanisms that undergird this process. Finally, we discuss implications for men’s health research and intervention efforts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-234
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Men's Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: Supported in part by a Research Support Grant from the University of Kentucky Office of the Vice President for Research (D. Helme, PI)

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 SAGE Publications.


  • adolescent
  • chew
  • dip
  • masculinity
  • prevention
  • rural
  • smokeless tobacco
  • tobacco

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies


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