Smokeless tobacco aka “Chew,” along with snuff, is a tradition and staple of baseball. However, this long-held tradition also comes with deadly consequences. The unfortunate death of Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn to salivary gland cancer may be the event that finally brings the conversation to light.
Tony Gwynn and Smokeless Tobacco
Although Tony Gwynn was very vocal about his use of smokeless tobacco and the struggle he had with cancer as a result of it, it had little effect on Major League Baseball’s attitude or regulations concerning the perils of chew (“Upholding.” 2014). A year after Gwynn’s diagnosis, MLB restricted use during interviews and weren’t allowed to keep tins of tobacco in their pockets anymore, but without banning tobacco outright, the culture and players of the sport will not limit or cease use (Wilson, 2014).
Smokeless tobacco has been a part of baseball as much as the bat and ball, and players of all ages use it, despite the obvious risks, including a number of oral cancers, as well as cheek and lymph node cancers. Chew is highly addictive and deadly, yet nearly 11.2% of American high school boys in 2012 used it, making it a much bigger problem than most people realize (“Upholding”).
Tony Gwynn was one of the best hitters and well-loved players in baseball. He was one of many who used smokeless tobacco in the 90’s, and he inspired the players union to limit use, but in light of his untimely and preventable death, it’s time to ban it outright. Dependency and addiction with smokeless tobacco is as real as addiction to cigarettes and other drugs. Tradition isn’t reason enough to keep this deadly killer in the diamond.
Morningside Addiction Treatment
At Morningside Recovery, we understand how quickly traditions and customs can turn into addictions. We offer substance abuse treatment for a variety of addictions, including:
To learn more about our programs that treat smokeless tobacco and other substances, call us today at 855-631-2135.