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Major League Baseball Urged to Ban Smokeless Tobacco

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Major League Baseball ‘s (MLB) 2011 season is about to begin. And, it may be the last year in which players are allowed to chew smokeless tobacco in front of their adoring fans. Health officials are urging MLB to ban smokeless tobacco for good. The minor leagues of baseball banned tobacco in 1993. Health experts say MLB players are endangering their health by using smokeless tobacco. They also set a bad example to their millions of fans who adore them on TV and in ballparks.

Tobacco is a Killer
Tobacco takes a toll of more than 400,000 U.S. citizens annually. The popularity of cigarette smoking is declining. To make up for this, tobacco companies are shelling out record sums to market smokeless tobacco products. There is also the concern that young people who use smokeless tobacco today, may graduate to smoking cigarettes tomorrow.

Ban Smokeless Tobacco Now
This campaign has been titled “Knock Tobacco Out of the Park”. Health officials say action is needed now, as MLB is negotiating a fresh contract with players that will come into force from next year. The prohibition on smokeless tobacco is aimed at coaches, managers and additional staff, apart from the players. Even Senators are pitching in with their suggestions.

Influence on Kids
Recently, there was a story in the Washington Post about why Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg started using smokeless tobacco. Strasburg admitted that he was influenced as a kid by watching his baseball heroes chew and spit tobacco on the field.

Warning Story
The horror story of smokeless tobacco addict Tony Gwynn who formerly played for the San Diego Padres, should serve as a warning to current MLB players and others who chew tobacco. Last year, Gwynn was declared to have cancer of the parotid gland in the jaw. The tumor affected his facial movements and treating it was horribly difficult. Cancer surgery paralyzed the right part of his face and he could not laugh, smile or even blink the right eye. Gwynn also lost 80 pounds due to chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Gwynn blamed his cancer on his addiction to smokeless tobacco.

Health Effects of Smokeless Tobacco
The health effects of smokeless tobacco include:

  • Increase in heart rate
  • Increase in blood pressure
  • Blood vessels become constricted
  • Increased risk of mouth cancer and throat cancer
  • Smokeless tobacco contributes to gum and heart disease
  • Teeth become discolored
  • Chewing tobacco causes halitosis or bad breath
  • Gums recede back leading to loss of teeth
  • The high amount of sugar in smokeless tobacco causes tooth decay

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