Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Tony Gwynn and a habit all too common in baseball

Courtesy of CNN
Padres fans remember Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn's hitting prowess: 3,141 hits, a .338 batting average and an intense focus at the plate.

What they probably don't remember is Gwynn using smokeless tobacco throughout his career -- a habit, Gwynn told ESPN in 2010,that probably gave him cancer. Gwynn's use doesn't specifically come to mind because so many of his fellow Major League Baseball players had the same habit.

A survey administered in 1999 found that close to one-third of rookies starting in the major leagues were already regular smokeless tobacco users. More than two-thirds had tried smokeless tobacco. Other studies found similar rates -- about 30% -- in the majors in the '70s and '80s, though smokeless tobacco use among players began declining in the late 1990s (PDF).

But it wasn't until 2011 that MLB implemented rules related to smokeless tobacco products. Worried about the message it was sending to young fans, MLB collaborated with the Major League Baseball Players Association to prohibit teams from providing tobacco to players. Players cannot have tobacco tins in their uniforms or do interviews while using chewing tobacco.

By Jacque Wilson
For the rest of the story, go to CNN.

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