chewing tobacco

Why Pierce Brosnan is causing a ‘spit storm’ in India

Author: staff


Former Bond star Pierce Brosnan has left Indians both shaken and stirred after his appearance in an advertisement endorsing a product that many associate with a highly addictive and dangerous form of chewing tobacco, writes the BBC’s Ayeshea Perera.

The advertisement is a mixture of suave Bond “cool” mixed with the kind of superhuman action one generally associates with south Indian films, where heroes are known to take out entire gangs by just looking at them.

Armed with nothing but a bottle of Pan Bahar mouth freshener, Brosnan proceeds to take down an entire cartel, pausing once every so often to kiss the jar in his hand. The 60-second advertisement is nothing short of a mini film. It features hired thugs, a party, a woman who is actually a spy, and of course a face to face encounter with a dastardly villain.

But the reaction in India has been anything but positive.

Many have associated Pan Bahar with pan masala and gutka, a potent mixture of tobacco, crushed betel nut, lime, and clove among other ingredients. It is chewed (and subsequently expectorated in bright red streams) by millions of people, who get addicted to its mildly psychotropic effects.

Both pan masala and gutka have often been described as the scourge of the South Asian subcontinent, as it has been linked to serious illness like mouth cancer and tumours.

Many Indian states have, in fact, banned the open sale of the products and have run a series of campaigns designed to discourage people from buying them. And although the product Brosnan is endorsing is neither a pan masala or gutka, the reactions have ranged from anger to disappointment.

October, 2016|Oral Cancer News|

FDA Spends $36 Million on Anti-Chewing Tobacco Ad Campaign

Author: Elizabeth Harrington
Cans of smokeless tobacco sit in the Tampa Bay Rays dugout before a baseball game between the Rays and the Baltimore Orioles, Wednesday, April 14, 2010, in Baltimore. After hounding Major League Baseball and its players union over steroids, Congress now wants the sport to ban smokeless tobacco. (AP Photo/Rob Carr)

Cans of smokeless tobacco sit in the Tampa Bay Rays dugout before a baseball game between the Rays and the Baltimore Orioles, Wednesday, April 14, 2010, in Baltimore. After hounding Major League Baseball and its players union over steroids, Congress now wants the sport to ban smokeless tobacco. (AP Photo/Rob Carr)

The Food and Drug Administration is spending $36 million on an anti-chewing tobacco advertising campaign targeted at white male teenagers in the midwest.

The federal agency announced Tuesday it is expanding its “Real Cost” anti-tobacco campaign to “educate rural, white male teenagers” and convince them to stop dipping.

“Smokeless tobacco use is culturally ingrained in many rural communities,” the FDA said. “For many, it has become a rite of passage, with these teenagers seeing smokeless tobacco used by role models, such as fathers, grandfathers, older brothers, and community leaders.”

The campaign will run television, radio, and print advertisements, as well as put up public signs and billboards and post on social media.

An FDA spokesperson told the Washington Free Beacon that the total cost for the campaign is $36 million, which will be financed through taxes on tobacco manufacturers. Paid ads will cost $20 million, and the remaining budget will cover “research, strategic planning, creative development, and contract management.”

The agency is also partnering with two dozen minor league baseball teams in the midwest that will host anti-chewing tobacco events and feature advertisements from the campaign.

“Amplification of messaging from the campaign will take place at 25 Minor League Baseball stadiums throughout this summer using a variety of efforts, including sponsoring in-stadium events, the placement of print ads, running of television ad spots, and opportunities for fans to engage with players who support the FDA’s efforts on smokeless tobacco,” said Tara Goodin, an FDA spokesperson.

The list of minor league clubs participating in the campaign includes the Albuquerque Isotopes, the Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks, the Traverse City Beach Bums in Michigan, the Sioux Falls Canaries, and the Burlington Bees, an Iowa farm team for the Los Angeles Angels.

Chewing tobacco has been banned at ballparks in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Boston, including Fenway Park, and major leaguers can face $250 fines and “are subject to discipline” from Major League Baseball’s Commissioner Rob Manfred if they dip during games.

ESPN reported that signs are now posted in Fenway with a phone number so individuals can call to report on other fans they see chewing tobacco to “alert security.”

The FDA provided an example of one of its new campaign ads, which features a man at a bowling alley with a can of chewing tobacco in his back pocket.


“This can can cause mouth cancer, tooth loss, brown teeth, jaw pain, white patches, gum disease,” text on the ad reads.

The campaign is targeted at white males aged 12 to 17 who are using smokeless tobacco, which the FDA estimates to be 629,000 nationwide, or 0.19 percent of the U.S. population of 318.9 million.

“Not only is the target audience using smokeless tobacco at a high rate, but many do not fully understand the negative health consequences of their actions,” said Mitch Zeller, J.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products. “In communities where smokeless tobacco use is part of the culture, reaching at-risk teens with compelling messaging is critical to help change their understanding of the risks and harms associated with smokeless tobacco use.”

*This news story was resourced by the Oral Cancer Foundation, and vetted for appropriateness and accuracy.

April, 2016|Oral Cancer News|

Blue Jays welcome City of Toronto’s proposed ban on chewing tobacco

Author: Robert Macleod and Jeff Gray

For years, it was a right of passage at the Toronto Blue Jays’ spring training camp here. Manager John Gibbons would earnestly proclaim that he was finally giving up smokeless tobacco, a personal ban that would usually only last a couple of weeks before he would be seen “dipping” once again.

It is a terrible habit, Gibbons will tell you, and that’s the reason he said he would support a City of Toronto proposal to prohibit the use of chewing tobacco at all public parks, baseball fields and hockey rinks. The prohibition would also apply at Rogers Centre, where many of the players openly use chewing tobacco.

“Tobacco’s a nasty habit,” Gibbons said. “I did it for a long, long time. I’m not proud of that. And whatever they can do to get rid of it, especially kids from doing any of that, I’m all for it.”

Toronto’s proposal to ban chewing tobacco is being spearheaded by Councillor Joe Mihevc, who is chairman of the city’s board of health. Mihevc says he intends to introduce a motion at the board’s March 21 meeting asking that officials study a potential ban that’s being supported by the Canadian Cancer Society and various anti-tobacco groups.

“Professional athletes are role models for young people,” he said, “and we need to make sure they are not promoting bad habits or tobacco use as a part of sports culture.”

Mihevc cited statistics that show a rising number of students across Ontario in Grades 7 to 12 are using smokeless tobacco, with one survey estimating that it is being used by 6 per cent of students in this age group. That number is up from 4.6 per cent in 2011. It means an estimated 58,200 students could be using it across the province, although the survey suggests use in Toronto is much lower, at 3 per cent.

Cancer researchers and health experts say chewing tobacco causes oral, pancreatic and esophageal cancer, as well as lesions in the mouth and tooth decay.

Mihevc announced his intentions at a news conference at Toronto’s City Hall on Monday attended by anti-tobacco campaigners and representatives from the Canadian Cancer Society. Also in attendance was Stephen Brooks, senior vice-president of business operations with the Blue Jays. Mihevc praised the Blue Jays and Major League Baseball for their support. Brooks said the club’s management backs the idea of a ban, something that city officials in New York, Boston, San Francisco and Los Angeles have already done.

He said MLB cannot bring in a league-wide ban unless it negotiates one into the players’ collective agreement. However, players and coaches are expected to abide by local bylaws wherever they happen to be playing. Brooks acknowledged there could some resistance from players, but declined to say which Blue Jays players use chewing tobacco.

“While certainly, I’m sure there will be pushback from players, this is very much in the spirit of what Major League Baseball has been advocating,” Brooks said.

Mihevc said he doubted bylaw officers would actually be deployed into the Blue Jays’ and visitors’ dugouts to make sure players were adhering to the law should it be enacted. He said the bylaw would be enforced as most bylaws are actually enforced – through conversations between citizens and social pressure.

Michael Perley, director of the Ontario Campaign for Action on Tobacco, said it is not just baseball where chewing tobacco has a long history; the habit is also common among amateur hockey players. This is despite bans, he said, by the National Hockey League, the Greater Toronto Hockey League and Baseball Ontario. Bylaws would strengthen league policies, he said.

For Gibbons, it took a lot to finally give up chewing tobacco, but he is happy he did. He is closing in on the second anniversary of going tobacco-free. He said the death in June, 2014, of former MLB great Tony Gwynn prompted him to get serious about quitting.

Gwynn was only 54 when he died after battling parotid (mouth) cancer, an illness he always maintained was caused by a chewing tobacco habit he picked up during his playing career.

March, 2016|Oral Cancer News|

California to big-league ballplayers: Stop chewing tobacco

Author: John Rogers

California lawmakers have taken the first step toward accomplishing something Major League Baseball could never do: Stop players from stuffing those big wads of chewing tobacco into their mouths during games. With Gov. Jerry Brown signing a bill earlier this week banning the use of smokeless tobacco in all California ballparks, a practice dating to the days of Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb now seems headed toward the sport’s endangered species list.

Although California is only one state, it is home to five of Major League Baseball’s 30 teams, and team owners themselves have been pressing for a ban for years. Last May they got one in San Francisco, home of the reigning World Series champion Giants. In August they got another in Boston, site of fabled Fenway Park, and when Brown signed Assembly Bill 768 on Sunday one was already in the works for Los Angeles.

“Major League Baseball has long supported a ban of smokeless tobacco at the Major League level and the Los Angeles Dodgers fully support the Los Angeles City Tobacco ordinance and Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids,” the Dodgers said in a statement last month.

Major League Baseball still needs buy-in from the players, however, because the statewide ban that takes effect before next season has no provision for enforcement.

“The question we’ve been asked is are we going to have police officers walking around checking lips, and no, that’s not the case,” said Opio Dupree, chief of staff to Assemblyman Tony Thurmond, D-Richmond, who introduced the bill. “It’s going to be left to the team and the league.”

Interviews with players in recent years indicate that many are ready to quit — if they could.

“I grew up with it,” pitcher Jake Peavy told the Boston Globe last year when the newspaper polled 58 players the Boston Red Sox had invited to spring training and found 21 were users.

“It was big with my family,” said Peavy who is now with the San Francisco Giants. “Next thing you know, you’re buying cans and you’re addicted to nicotine.”

He added he would like to quit to set a better example for his sons.

Last year’s World Series MVP, San Francisco Giant’s pitching ace Madison Bumgarner, also chews tobacco but told The Associated Press earlier this year he planned to quit after San Francisco became the first city in the nation to adopt a ban. That one, like the statewide provision, also takes effect next year.

“I’ll be all right. I can quit,” Bumgarner said in August. “I quit every once in a while for a little while to make sure I can do it.”

All the players should, said Christian Zwicky, a former Southern California Babe Ruth League most valuable player who grew up watching the Los Angeles Dodgers play and says he never cared for seeing all that tobacco chewing and the spitting of tobacco juice that follows.

It didn’t influence him to take up the practice, the 22-year-old college student says, but he can see how it might have affected others.

“I understand the sentiment there,” said Zwicky who adds he’s not a big fan of government regulation but supports this law. “You don’t want these people that kids look up to using these products that could influence children in a negative way.”

Moves to adopt a comprehensive ban have been gaining support in recent years, fueled by such things as last year’s death of popular Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn of the San Diego Padres, who blamed his fatal mouth cancer on years of chewing tobacco. Former pitcher Curt Schilling, a cancer survivor, has also taken up the cause.

Use of smokeless tobacco has been banned in the minor leagues for more than 20 years, but Major League Baseball and its players union haven’t been able to reach agreement on a similar restriction. Players and coaches are prohibited from chewing tobacco during television interviews and can’t been seen carrying tobacco products when fans are in the ballparks. But the chewing during the game continues.

“It’s a tough deal for some of these players who have grown up playing with it and there are so many triggers in the game,” San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy told the AP earlier this year.

“I certainly don’t endorse it,” said Bochy, an on-and-off-again user for decades. “With my two sons, the one thing I asked them is don’t ever start dipping.”

October, 2015|Oral Cancer News|

Boston votes to ban chewing tobacco from ballparks, including Fenway

Author: Marissa Payne


Baseball in Boston is about to change. On Wednesday, the City Council voted unanimously to make its baseball parks and stadiums, including historic Fenway, tobacco-free zones. And yes, the ordinance covers the kind of tobacco you chew, a longtime favorite of many MLB players.

“This action will save lives by reducing the number of young people who begin to use smokeless tobacco because they followed the example of the Major Leaguers they idolize,” Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids said in a statement sent to The Washington Post. “We thank Mayor Marty Walsh, the City Council and Boston’s health community for their leadership on this important issue.”

Red Sox owner John Henry was also supportive of the legislation.

“It’s a great thing,” Henry said (via when Mayor Walsh first proposed the legislation last month. “I’m very supportive.”

The ban doesn’t just apply to players, but also fans, and it covers all stadiums from major-league to organized amateur games. Those found in violation of the ordinance face a $250 fine, Boston’s Fox affiliate reports.

Boston is now the second major U.S. city to ban tobacco at its baseball stadiums. San Francisco, which banned the substance in April, was the first. Both cities had very good reasons to nix the chew.

Smokeless tobacco, like cigarettes, contains the addictive substance nicotine and its users can become more at-risk for illnesses such as cancer, gum disease and heart disease, according to the Mayo Clinic.

“You can call chewing tobacco by whatever name you want — smokeless tobacco, spit tobacco, chew, snuff, pinch or dip — but don’t call it harmless,” a Mayo Clinic brochure says.

The most dangerous side effects of chewing tobacco rose to fame last year when two former major league players connected their cancers to the habit.

“I do believe without a doubt, unquestionably, that chewing is what gave me cancer,” former MLB pitcher Curt Schilling said at the WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio Telethon last year. “I did [it] for about 30 years. It was an addictive habit. … I lost my sense of smell, my taste buds for the most part. I had gum issues, they bled, all this other stuff. None of it was enough to ever make me quit. The pain that I was in going through this treatment, the second or third day it was the only thing in my life that … I wish I could go back and never have dipped. Not once. It was so painful.”

An even more dire warning came from the experience of San Diego Padres slugger Tony Gwynn. His cancer of the mouth and salivary glands killed him last year at the age of 54. Before his death, he too blamed his disease on smokeless tobacco.

“Of course, it caused it,” Gwynn once said. “I always dipped on my right side.”

Despite the health concerns, however, many MLB players, including several Red Sox players, continued to use chewing tobacco.

An informal Boston Globe survey last month found that 21 of the 58 Red Sox players who were invited to spring training last year indicated they used smokeless tobacco. This is despite the team already discouraging the substance’s use by offering players other things to chew on, including gum and sunflower seeds.

With the new ordinance, however, those players will now be forced to find new, possibly safer habits, which the Boston City Council and tobacco-free advocates hope trickle down to their young fans.

While cigarette use among youths in the United States is declining, smokeless tobacco use has remained steady. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than five out of every 100 high school students reported using smokeless tobacco in 2014. Nearly two out of ever 100 middle schoolers said they used the substance.

Boston and San Francisco aren’t the only city’s that see a problem either.

In June, a member of the Los Angeles City Council proposed legislation to also ban tobacco at area baseball stadiums.

“It’s about protecting the health of our players and the health of our kids,” Councilman Jose Huizar told the Los Angeles Times. “America has a great pastime, but chewing smokeless tobacco shouldn’t be part of that.”

*This news story was resourced by the Oral Cancer Foundation, and vetted for appropriateness and accuracy.

September, 2015|Oral Cancer News|

Riders raise awareness for oral cancer

Source: Millard County Chronicle Progress
Author: Doug Radunich

Two traveling rodeo riders helped raise awareness for oral cancer at the Days of the Old West rodeo in Delta June 11-13.

As a non-profit seeking to spread awareness of oral cancer and the dangers of starting terrible tobacco habits, the foundation teamed up with bareback bronco rider Cody Kiser, of Carson City, Nev., and barrel rider Carly Twisselman, of Paso Robles, Calif., in an effort to spread the word among the Rodeo circuit, which is one of the biggest arenas of tobaccos-using patrons. While others are focused on getting users to quit, the Oral Cancer Foundation is encouraging young people to avoid the habit that they may see one of their rodeo heroes engage in. The message of the foundation is simple and not confrontational: “Be Smart. Don’t Start”. This message was displayed at the recent rodeo in Delta.

Also at the Delta rodeo, Kiser and Twisselman sported Oral Cancer Foundation logos and wording on their clothes and riding gear, while handing out free buttons, wristbands and bandanas. Both riders also gave autographs, talked and had pictures taken with young fans.

Both riders, who will promote the message at different rodeos across the country, also competed in their respective riding events while in Delta.


“It’s an awesome opportunity to use our platform, and it’s for a good cause and to put good message out there,” Twisselman said. “There are family members and friends and peers out there who chew tobacco, and in the rodeo world it’s still a big problem. There are still so many people who do it, and there’s that mentality that ‘if he’s the world champion and he does it’ maybe I should do it. We want to put out a better put message to kids and say they can still be successful and not have to chew.”

Twisselman said there is a big focus on the positive aspects of not using tobacco.

“We want to highlight all the good things that come from not using tobacco, and not just talk about the bad things from using it,” she said. “Another great thing about the foundation is we’re not trying to hammer the message into people or be pushy about it. We also want to reach people who haven’t started yet and try to save some lives.”

Kiser also said he was excited to be part of the campaign.

“We hand out pins and just try and talk to people as much as we can,” he said. “We want to get the word out there about cancer, and our main focus is on kids and teens. We really want to get to them before the pick up the habit. The slogan is ‘Be Smart Don’t Start.’

According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, oral cancer is becoming an epidemic in the US. Rodeo has a historic tie to smokeless tobaccos, and if the problem is going to be addressed, the Oral Cancer Foundation has to do it where the problem thrives. Smokeless/spit tobacco is one of the historic causes of deadly oral cancers, and is more addictive than other forms of tobacco use.

More on oral cancer facts can be found at

*This news story was resourced by the Oral Cancer Foundation, and vetted for appropriateness and accuracy.

Baseball and tobacco are a deadly mix

Authors: Dr. Howard Koh & Dr. Alan C. Woodward
ortiz copyUnhealthy as it looks: David Ortiz spat out his “chew” after flying out against Tampa Bay in Game 3 of the 2008 ALCS at Fenway Park.


Search the web for the phrase “tobacco and baseball” and you’ll find an association that dates back almost to the beginning of the sport. In the late 1800s, tobacco companies debuted baseball cards in cigarette packs. By the early 1900s, Bull Durham was advertising its chewing tobacco product on outfield fences.

Today, cigarette smoking is prohibited or restricted in all Major League parks. Still, players, coaches, and others use smokeless tobacco, often referred to as “chew” or “dip,” in virtually every stadium across the country. But tobacco that is “smokeless” is not “harmless.” It contains at least 28 carcinogens and causes oral, pancreatic, and esophageal cancer, along with serious health problems such as heart disease, gum disease, tooth decay, and mouth lesions.

The longstanding link between tobacco and baseball has led to tragic outcomes, for players and young fans alike. Baseball legend Babe Ruth died at age 53 of throat cancer after decades of dipping and chewing. Last summer, former Red Sox pitching great Curt Schilling announced that he had been treated for oral cancer, which he attributed to three decades of chewing tobacco. Sadly, his news came shortly after the death of Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, at age 54, after a lengthy fight with salivary gland cancer. Gwynn, too, attributed his cancer to longtime smokeless tobacco use.

As physicians who have spent decades providing patient care and promoting public health, we believe it is time to make baseball tobacco free. Today, we are proud to join Mayor Marty Walsh as he announces a historic and lifesaving city ordinance to eliminate the use of smokeless and all other tobacco products at baseball venues and athletic fields. This includes Fenway Park.

Approval of the rule would allow Boston to join San Francisco as the first two US cities to protect the future health of players, coaches, and fans in this way. It could also inspire other jurisdictions to consider similar action.

Implementing this measure would also add to our city and state’s history of leadership in fighting tobacco. Massachusetts can boast one of the first tobacco prevention and cessation programs in the country (1993), a comprehensive smoke-free law (2004), and a series of tobacco tax increases to protect kids and fund public health. Although adequate funding for state tobacco control remains an ongoing challenge, these and other measures have dropped the Massachusetts youth smoking rate (10.7 percent in 2013) to nearly a third below the national average.

Despite this progress, the national rate of smokeless tobacco use in high school has stayed disturbingly steady. In the US, nearly 15 percent of high school boys currently use smokeless tobacco. More than half a million youth try smokeless tobacco for the first time. Smokeless tobacco companies annually spend $435 million on marketing. A key message of such advertising is that boys can’t be real men unless they chew. Also, scores of Major League Baseball players who chew or dip in front of fans provide invaluable free advertising for the industry. Impressionable kids stand ready to imitate their every move.

For too long, the tobacco industry has normalized and glamorized products that cause drug dependence, disability, and death. Leveraging the prestige and appeal of baseball has been an essential part of that strategy. It’s time for baseball to start a new chapter that reclaims tobacco-free parks as the new norm — and for Boston, home to so many sports achievements, to lead the way.

Dr. Howard K. Koh is the former US Assistant Secretary for Health and former Massachusetts Commissioner of Public Heath. Dr. Alan C. Woodward, a former president of the Massachusetts Medical Society, is chair of Tobacco Free Mass.

*This news story was resourced by the Oral Cancer Foundation, and vetted for appropriateness and accuracy.

August, 2015|Oral Cancer News|

Smokeless tobacco ingrained in baseball, despite bans and Gwynn’s death

Author: Gary Klein
Utility player Mark DeRosa loads a wad of smokeless tobacco while playing for the San Francisco Giants before a game against the Dodgers on March 31, 2011. The use of smokeless tobacco is prevalent in the major leagues. (Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images)


Rick Vanderhook played for Cal State Fullerton’s 1984 College World Series championship team and was a Titans assistant when they won two more. So he remembers the days when cans and pouches of smokeless tobacco were omnipresent in the uniform pockets of the participants.

Not anymore. The NCAA banned tobacco use on the field in the early 1990s.

“It’s probably cut back, I’ll say, almost 90% compared to what it was 25 years ago,” said Vanderhook, who in his fourth season as head coach has guided the Titans back to Omaha, where they will open against defending national champion Vanderbilt on Sunday at 5 p.m.

Smokeless tobacco remains ingrained in baseball culture, however, including the college and high school levels where it is banned.

“It sounds bad, but it’s part of the game,” said Fullerton pitcher Thomas Eshelman, echoing nearly every coach and player interviewed for this article.

Minor league players can be fined for having tobacco products in their locker or partaking on the field. Major leaguers are prohibited from using tobacco during televised interviews and player appearances, and they cannot carry tobacco products in their uniforms. But they are otherwise not prohibited from using it on the field.

Before he died of salivary gland cancer last year, baseball Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn said he believed his habit of using smokeless tobacco caused the disease that took his life at age 54.

Curt Schilling, a former All-Star pitcher, said last year he had undergone treatment for cancer that resulted from smokeless tobacco use. In April, he penned an open letter to his younger self warning of the dangers.

And last month, the mayor of San Francisco signed an ordinance that in 2016 will ban tobacco from all sporting venues in the city, including AT&T Park, home of the defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants.

That has not stopped many college players from using smokeless tobacco.

“No matter how many times you look a guy in the eye and say Tony Gwynn and Curt Schilling, if that guy wants to dip, he’s going to find a way,” said Andy Lopez, who guided Pepperdine and Arizona to national titles before retiring last month after 33 years as a college coach.

The NCAA prohibits players, coaches, umpires, athletic trainers and managers from using tobacco at game sites. If umpires catch players using tobacco, the player and coach face ejection.

“There is zero tolerance,” said Chuck Lyon, a college umpire for nearly three decades.

According to the NCAA rule book, “umpires who use tobacco before, during or after a game in the vicinity of the site shall be reported to and punished by the proper disciplinary authority.”

750x422-1A tin of chewing tobacco is seen tucked into the glove of Dodgers reliever Chris Hatcher when he was playing wiht the Miami Marlins last season. (Wilfredo Lee / Associated Press)


Players and coaches interviewed for this story said they had seen umpires using tobacco. But Lyon said, “as a crew chief, I would turn that in immediately.”

Results of the NCAA’s most recent quadrennial survey of about 21,000 college athletes from all sports showed that tobacco use by college baseball players was decreasing. The 2013 results, released last July in a report titled, “NCAA National Study of Substance Abuse Habits of College Student-Athletes,” showed a drop in “spit” tobacco use since 2009.

In 2005, the overall percentage of acknowledged use in the previous 12 months was 42.5%. It climbed to 52.3% in 2009, but dropped to 47.2% in 2013 — though that’s still nearly half of the players in a sport in which it is banned.

Coaches said they address tobacco with their players before every season.

“You also bring it up throughout the season,” UCLA Coach John Savage said, “but it’s not a daily reminder.”

Cal State Northridge Coach Greg Moore said, “We educate them constantly and talk about their choices.” But, he added, “I know that me saying smokeless tobacco is unhealthy is not going to get a guy to change his habit.”

The California Interscholastic Federation, which governs high school sports in the state, forbids the use of tobacco products by athletes and coaches. But most players say they first experimented with tobacco in high school.

“They get into it for the same reason 12-year-olds start smoking — they think it’s a cool thing to do,” UC Irvine Coach Mike Gillespie said.

Chatsworth High Coach Tom Meusborn said tobacco use by players has dramatically dissipated since he began coaching at the school in 1990. “I think they understand and are becoming more health conscious with their training and diet,” he said.

Jim Ozella, Newhall Hart’s coach since 2000, also sees fewer high school players using tobacco. “I just bring up the topic of Tony Gwynn,” said Ozella, whose son worked as an equipment manager at San Diego State when Gwynn coached there.

College players said they were aware of the risks of using tobacco products.

Still, Cal State Northridge infielder William Colantono began to dip as a young member of a mostly older varsity high school team. “Being around them, I picked it up,” he said. “Not that I’m proud of it.”

Colantono said that while most of his summer league teammates used smokeless tobacco, only “a handful” of his Northridge teammates do, and they partake off the field.

“It’s easy for me not to have to do it on the field,” he said. “I’m not crazy about it where I have to have it all the time.”

Eshelman, Fullerton’s ace right-hander, started to dip in high school because “I thought it was cool.” Fellow Titans pitcher John Gavin began in high school on “a dare.” Both said they occasionally use tobacco, but not on the field.

“After a game when you want to hang out and relax,” said Eshelman, a junior.

“Just kind of a stress reliever,” said Gavin, a freshman.

Several college baseball summer leagues, which have rosters comprised of players from across the United States, also ban the use of tobacco during games.

Sal Colangelo, longtime manager of the Bethesda (Md.) Big Train in the Cal Ripken Collegiate League, said he attempts to educate players, but for some “it’s a way of life.”

“You go into their trucks and there are cases and cases of tobacco and dip,” he said. “It’s like a 7-Eleven.”

Several coaches from West Coast schools acknowledged using tobacco, though a few agreed to speak about it only if they were not identified.

One, who said he recently quit, recalled an umpire once threatening to eject him for chewing when he went out to argue a call. Another, who has used smokeless tobacco for more than two decades, admitted he was addicted.

“For me, personally, that would be one of my greatest accomplishments if I can stop,” he said.

Former Pepperdine coach Steve Rodriguez played on Pepperdine’s 1992 national championship team and professionally for seven seasons, including 18 games in the major leagues. He coached the Waves for 12 seasons before being hired this week as coach of Baylor. He said he chewed leaf tobacco until about five years ago.

“I was a hypocrite because I would say, ‘You can’t do it,’ but I would still do it,” he said, adding he is now passionate about educating his players about the risks.

“I want to make sure,” he said, “that I give them the best opportunity to not have to deal with really, really big issues.”

*This news story was resourced by the Oral Cancer Foundation, and vetted for appropriateness and accuracy.

Legal loopholes allow big tobacco companies to target young children with new products

Author: Sen. Mark Leno & Tony Thurmond 

With smoking now widely known as the nation’s No. 1 preventable killer, Big Tobacco is targeting our kids with new products that give an illusion of more safety but carry the age-old motive to hook kids on tobacco at a young age.

Preventing children from picking up nicotine addiction is the best way to keep them free of tobacco-related disease for life. That’s why we’ve each introduced bills that seek to curb youth usage of smokeless (chewing) tobacco and e-cigarettes.

Last year, many were shocked when Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, who played for the San Diego Padres, died from cancer of the salivary glands that was related to decades of smokeless tobacco usage. 

Former World Series hero Curt Schilling, who helped propel the Arizona Diamondbacks and Boston Red Sox to championships, has blamed his bout with mouth cancer on chewing tobacco. 

Use of chewing tobacco by professional athletes sends the wrong message to our kids, but nonetheless a powerful one. Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health have found that the use of smokeless tobacco by players has a powerful “role model effect” on youths, particularly young males. 

It’s no wonder then that while overall rates of smoking have declined thanks to several decades of intense educational programs, smokeless tobacco rates have remained stubbornly high among youth. One in every 6 high school boys report regular usage.

Assembly Bill 768 bans smokeless tobacco at all ballparks in California with organized baseball, including all five major league stadiums. Not only would this prevent usage at high school and college games, but our youths would not be unduly influenced by seeing their heroes serve as de-facto smokeless tobacco advertisers.

While smokeless tobacco must at least carry a warning label, electronic cigarettes unfortunately are being marketed as both a safe alternative to regular cigarettes and a tool to help smokers quit. 

With mounting evidence demonstrating the health risks of e-cigarettes, we must close the legal loopholes that have enabled kids to be targeted with products that give a false sense of safety.

Tobacco makers are prohibited from marketing cigarettes to youths or producing various flavors, but the same is not true of e-cigarettes. 

Sales of e-cigarette devices to minors are prohibited in California, but gummy bear, cotton candy and bubble gum flavors are widely available to our young people in many communities. 

Meanwhile, the use of e-cigarettes is increasing at alarming rates among our youth. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that more than a quarter of a million youths who had never smoked a traditional cigarette used e-cigarettes in 2013, and youth usage tripled between 2011 and 2013.

The availability of e-cigarettes to kids belies a growing public health concern over the products. The California Department of Public Health reported in January that e-cigarettes contain 10 chemicals that cause cancer, birth defects and other reproductive harm. 

A team of researchers at UCSF also found that e-cigarettes deliver carcinogens that have been linked to asthma, stroke, heart disease and diabetes. 

Senate Bill 140 would ensure that e-cigarettes are subject to the same state rules that prohibit smoking in certain public places as well as prevent the sale of tobacco products to minors with regulations and enforcement.

In 2014, 40,000 Californians died from tobacco-related diseases, which cost California’s health care system more than $13 billion annually, with taxpayers picking up a $3 billion bill for tobacco-regulated disease in the Medi-Cal program alone. 

These two bills are part of a five-bill effort at the California state Capitol that is supported by the Save Lives Coalition of doctors, nurses, health professionals, patients and nonprofit health organizations that seek to curb tobacco usage among Californians, particularly youths. 

Individually, these bills are good policy; together, they take a step toward protecting youths from predatory tobacco companies and the grip of nicotine addiction.

Sen. Mark Leno is a Democrat from San Francisco. Assemblyman Tony Thurmond is a Democrat from Richmond.

*This news story was resourced by the Oral Cancer Foundation, and vetted for appropriateness and accuracy.
April, 2015|Oral Cancer News|

Curt Schilling: Letter to my younger self

Author: Curt Schilling

Dear 16-year-old Curt,
Tomorrow at lunch, a kid is going to dare you to take a dip of Copenhagen. If you say yes, like I did, you’ll be addicted for the rest of your life. Well, the rest of your life up to the point when you are diagnosed with cancer.

I get what you’re thinking. You’re 16 — you’re invincible, just like all your buddies. If you were to jump ahead 33 years, you couldn’t write a better dream than the one your life is going to be.

With one exception.

If you say yes tomorrow, you will become addicted to chewing tobacco and you will get mouth cancer.

I’m going to tell you a little story that I think may help guide you. (I saw this on a TV series called The West Wing — great show, you’re going to love it one day — and it very much rings true).

There was a man — we’ll call him Joe. Joe lived in the same house his entire life. One day, a huge storm came. He turned on the radio: Prepare for torrential rains and deadly flash flooding. Everyone should evacuate to safety immediately.

See, Joe was a devout Christian. He had the Lord in his life for as long as he could remember. Church every Sunday, prayed twice a day.

“My faith in God is resolute. He will save me,” Joe thought.

The rain kept coming down.

About two hours later, water began to flood his house, so he scrambled on to the roof.

After a half-hour, with the water rising rapidly, a boat sputtered up to Joe’s house, which was now partially submerged.

Boat driver: “Come on down, I will take you to safety!”

Joe sat calmly on his roof.

Joe: “No thanks! My faith in God is strong, God will save me!”

So the boat sped off.

Another hour went by, and the water had risen to the roof.

A helicopter flew over, saw Joe and swooped down, dropping down a rope.

Helicopter pilot: “Grab a hold! I will pull you up!”

Joe: “No thank you! My faith in the Lord is strong. He will save me!!”

The man looked awkwardly at what he could only guess was someone who’d lost his mind. The helicopter flew off.

About 10 minutes later the water overtook Joe’s roof, so he swam out into the strong current. It quickly pulled him below.

When Joe opened his eyes, he saw the Lord standing at the gates of Heaven.

“Joe, what on earth are you doing here??”

“I was just about to ask you that very question, Father,” Joe replied.

“Wait… what?” says God.

“Father I have had Faith in you since my first memory. I have prayed morning and night to you. I have sinned, but you know that in my heart I have asked for forgiveness and tried my hardest to do right by you.”

“Yes, Joe I know in your heart you are a good, honest and loving man.”

“Then why did you let me die?” Joe asked.

“I sent you a radio message, a boat and a helicopter! What more did you want?”

I tell you, 16-year-old me, that story for a very important reason. From tomorrow forward, you will be given the same signs that Joe was given a hundred times over. Many will be far more insightful and far more telling than the ones he received.

You will develop sores, you will lose your sense of taste and smell. You will develop lesions. You will lose your gums — they will rot. You will have problems with your teeth for the rest of your life.

You will meet men — many good, honest men — who chewed. None of them will have their entire face. They will be missing jaws, chins, cheeks, noses and more. None will live more than a year or two after you meet them. All of them were tobacco chewers.

You will meet Joe Garigiola. He will introduce you to Bill Tuttle. Bill will have no lower face. His entire lower jaw is gone. It was that, or die of mouth cancer. Well, not “that or,” because that mouth cancer would kill him inside of two years.

You will brush your teeth and your mouth will bleed. Not light blood from your gums, but darker blood from deeper inside your mouth. That’s the chew destroying your tissue. You will get message after message, but your addiction will always win, until it wins the biggest battle.

You will get message after message, but your addiction will always win, until it wins the biggest battle

If you say yes tomorrow, you will begin to kill yourself from the inside out. It’s difficult for you to understand in this current phase of your life, but by chewing tobacco, you are jeopardizing your participation in what will be some of your most important moments.

You will risk any chance of seeing your four amazing children graduate high school. You will potentially lose the opportunity to walk your daughter Gabriella (who, like her dad, will be blessed with simple yet outstanding pitching mechanics) down the aisle. You will risk not seeing Gehrig, your oldest son, pitch for four years at a New England college. You may miss your son Grant graduating high school and changing the world. And you may be absent as your youngest son Garrison — who aspires to follow in your father’s footsteps and join the army — masterfully plays goalie with a remarkable passion.

You could miss the most important and rewarding days of your life with your beautiful wife Shonda.

If cancer kills you, what are you leaving them with? What are you leaving them for?

Your dad is going to die in five years. You know what’s going to kill him? A heart attack brought on by heart disease and lung cancer caused by tobacco use. He’ll die right in front of you. You two will be alone and together for his final minutes on earth. The night before he passes away, you two are going to sit up and talk until 4 a.m. You will chalk up the conversation as peculiar, but years later it will hit you like a ton of bricks. It will hit you like a radio message, boat or helicopter. He knew. It’s why the things he told you that night were things only a dad can tell a son. He knew.

Right now, you don’t listen to the messages God gives you. And if you don’t alter this habit, in 32 years you will be diagnosed with cancer.

Finally, consider this: How many kids will start dipping over the next 32 years because they saw you do it?

Do you want that on you? No?

Then my advice is simple. Tomorrow, at lunch, just say no.

Make the right choice,

– Curt

April, 2015|Oral Cancer News|