Ask any adult who has followed professional baseball for most of their lives and they’ll tell you that they’ve never watched a game without at least one player chewing tobacco on the field.
Chew and baseball have an interwoven history that dates back to the early 1900s. But that century-old relationship just came to an abrupt halt.
Thanks to a push from the Knock Tobacco Out of the Park campaign, almost half of major league stadiums are now tobacco-free.
History of Chewing and Baseball
Baseball players enjoyed chewing because it moistened their mouths and mitts.
It wasn’t until 1970 that the government began educating America about the dangers of tobacco. Regardless of this newfound information, the tobacco industry continued to pass out samples to players until 1998 when the MLB finally banned the practice.
With an estimated 30% of Major Leaguers still using smokeless tobacco, the tradition continues — and it’s trickling down to child.
How Chewing Tobacco Affects Oral Health
Smokeless tobacco causes more than just bad breath and discolored teeth. Nicotine is absorbed through mouth tissues, putting users at high risk for tongue, cheek, gum and mouth cancers. And 75% of people with oral cancer use some form of tobacco.
Dippers are also at increased risk for heart disease, heart attacks, strokes as well as a whole host of oral and overall health complications.
The MLB Chewing Tobacco Ban
Not only are baseball players harming their health, spitters are setting a poor example to America’s kids. That’s why public health organizations—like Oral Health America and the American Cancer Society—advocated for the MLB chewing tobacco ban.
The hard work has paid off. In May 2015, San Francisco spearheaded the smokeless tobacco ban, making it illegal at all of its sporting venues. Now 14 of 30 major league stadiums are tobacco-free. And as of November 2016, all new MLB players are prohibited from using smokeless tobacco.
Once the majority of stadiums are on board, it’s only a matter of time before the entire baseball community quits the dip.
You can help take tobacco out of baseball! Send this pre-written email to the MLB/Players Association.
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