Citizens for Clean Air and Clean Lungs

Baseball Fights Its Tobacco Traditions
Baseball is a game of tradition, unfortunately, one of those traditions is using smokeless tobacco. In an effort to prevent ballplayers from using smokeless tobacco, and to help current users quit, former ballplayer Joe Garagiola is heading up the Oral Health America's National Spit Tobacco Education Program (NSTEP).

"Cancer is never a part of any tradition," says Garagiola. "Baseball gets the rap (of being linked with tobacco) because the tobacco companies have done a great job of getting to the young people, if I can use the word great. I think it's more insidious."

NSTEP is supported by Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association. The three organizations have commissioned a three-year spring-training oral examination program that will reach every ball club.

According to research, smokeless tobacco, whether in the form of chewing tobacco or dip, causes oral cancer, receding of the gums, loss of teeth, loss of the jaw, and even death.

But Alan Hilburg, spokesman for the Smokeless Tobacco Council, disagrees with that conclusion. "It has not been scientifically established that smokeless tobacco causes any adverse health effects," says Hilburg.

Al Tortorella, spokesman for the US Tobacco Company, adds, "Despite claims to the contrary, smokeless tobacco has not been scientifically established (that is, it has not been proven) to be a cause of oral cancer. No one knows the causes of oral cancer. That is why government and industry spend millions of dollars each year on cancer research."

Providence Journal-Bulletin, (4/7/99) "RED SOX: Spitting in the wind", STEVEN KRASNER Journal Sports Writer

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