Tobacco and Baseball – An American Tradition No More?
We have always associated Major League Baseball with smokeless tobacco. Of course, we call it chew, dip, snuff, or spit, but it’s smokeless tobacco nonetheless. No matter what you call it, it is a disgusting habit. I mean think about it – users take a wad of short or long cut tobacco. They put a chunk of it in their mouths and suck and chew on it. Then, little by little, they spit it on the ground or in a cup. Gross. Strangely enough, though, when we think of dip, we associate the stuff with baseball players. We think of them as having a big wad of the nasty stuff in their mouths, right? It almost seems as if the two go hand in hand. This is because smokeless tobacco and American baseball go way back. For more than a century, chewing snuff has been a popular pastime among baseball players in the United States. The pitcher takes the mound, but not before he spits a big wad of dip onto the field. The game pauses for a brief moment while the catcher removes his face masks to spit out his dip. You can see evidence of the stuff in the back pockets of many of the players – the round shape of the all too familiar snuff can. But what if I told you it was the end of an era? Would you believe baseball is trying to ban smokeless tobacco – one round dip can at a time?
The MLB Takes Action to Reduce Smokeless Tobacco Use
For five seasons, players have not been permitted to carry or use smokeless tobacco on baseball fields in the league. They have been, however, allowed to dip in other places in the stadium. To take the current ban one step further, more than 12 major league cities are working to ban the use of smokeless tobacco on their baseball fields before the 2017 baseball season. This is expected to set a precedent for other cities to follow. Also, in December 2016, Major League Baseball (MLB) took a leap forward in banning the use of smokeless tobacco in future generations of baseball. New contracts forbid rookie players from using the stuff while they are playing ball. Although this ban does not apply to current players, leaguers believe this is a step in the right direction to completely removing smokeless tobacco from the game of baseball. If new players want to be contracted and accepted into the league, they have to choose to stay away from smokeless tobacco.
The Deadly Truth About Smokeless Tobacco and Baseball
For whatever reason, people believe smokeless tobacco is less harmful than the kind of tobacco you smoke. The fact is, they come from the same plant – they are one in in the same! The only difference is the way they are used. You smoke cigarettes; you suck on smokeless tobacco. They both cause cancer and they are both downright disgusting and bad for your health. Here are some statistics you may not know about smokeless tobacco:
- There are at least 28 harmful chemicals in smokeless tobacco known to cause cancer.
- Smokeless tobacco causes oral cancer, esophageal cancer, and pancreatic cancer.
- Smokeless tobacco is also linked to gum disease, heart disease, and leukoplakia.
- The Surgeon General has concluded that smokeless tobacco is not a safe substitute for smoking cigarettes.
- Smokeless tobacco increases the chances of having a stroke.
For decades, baseball players have known about the risks involved with using smokeless tobacco. However; the 2014 death of Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn has brought attention to the use of snuff and the game of baseball. Gwynn died at the age of 54 from salivary gland cancer caused by years of using chew. His family currently has a wrongful death lawful filed on his behalf against tobacco companies. Gwynn’s untimely death caused baseball authorities to take positive action to discourage the use of smokeless tobacco while playing the civilized game of baseball. Can baseball really rid itself of chew?