The Addicts of Summer
The San Diego Padres' PETCO Park was built by union labor under a Project Labor Agreement that made it a smoke-free workplace. It is also a smoke-free ballpark. Smokers have to go outside the park to light up. Almost all major league ballparks prohibit smoking in the stands and ballplayers are prohibited from smoking in the dugout or on the field. Yet on the field are the bulging cheeks and brown stains of spit tobacco use. Almost 36% of major league baseball players are addicted to spit tobacco. The health effects of this addiction are scary.
--- Every year nearly 36,000 people are diagnosed with oral cancer.
--- Nearly 8,000 people every year die of oral cancer.
--- Spit tobacco contributes to heart disease and numerous other cancers.
Why can't baseball get rid of spit tobacco? Curt Schilling, pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, says it best, "It's an addiction that covers so many things physically and mentally." Schilling proved how tough he was during the 2004 World Series when he pitched on a leg that was bleeding through his sock - and won. But he has not been able to win the battle with spit tobacco. In 1998 he had a pre-cancerous lesion removed from his mouth and quit - but two years later he was dipping again. He promised his kids he would quit for New Years Day in 2001 - and lasted 3 days. He tried to quit in 2002 during spring training and only made it two days. "This is, by far, the worst thing I've ever experienced," says Schilling, "I've got to quit - I want to see my kids grow up, and I want them to see me with a full face - but I haven’t been able to."
If you or someone you love is addicted to spit tobacco call the California Chewers' Helpline, 1-800-844-CHEW for free and confidential information, referrals, and one-on-one help. It may be hard but you can do it.
Source: National Cancer Institute