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California imposes no-chew law for big leagues

Tony Gwynn believed his cancer was from chewing tobacco

Tony Gwynn in 2011
Tony Gwynn in 2011

California yesterday (October 11) banned use of chewing tobacco by Major League Baseball players — the first state to do so, according to marketwatch.com. A bill to ban snuff was initially introduced in February.

The law takes effect before the 2017 season and affects the Padres, Los Angeles Dodgers, Anaheim Angels, San Francisco Giants, and Oakland Athletics. California is the first state to make such a move. Major League Baseball, facing opposition from the players' union, tried unsuccessfully to ban it, but it is banned at the minor league level.

The move is particularly poignant in San Diego. Padres Hall-of-Famer and former San Diego State baseball coach Tony Gwynn said in 2010 that he had salivary gland cancer, and he blamed it on decades of chewing tobacco. Gwynn died in June of last year.

Former San Diego State star pitcher Stephen Strasburg, now in the big leagues, and former Padres manager Bruce Bochy worked hard to kick the addiction. Former Padres players Jake Peavy and Mark Kotsay did not favor a ban, and Gwynn did not work to eliminate its use among others players.

San Diegan Doug Harvey, former Major League umpire, and also a member of the Hall of Fame, blames his esophageal cancer on longtime use of chewing tobacco. He has toured the nation making speeches against the addiction.

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San Diego spiritual
Tony Gwynn in 2011
Tony Gwynn in 2011

California yesterday (October 11) banned use of chewing tobacco by Major League Baseball players — the first state to do so, according to marketwatch.com. A bill to ban snuff was initially introduced in February.

The law takes effect before the 2017 season and affects the Padres, Los Angeles Dodgers, Anaheim Angels, San Francisco Giants, and Oakland Athletics. California is the first state to make such a move. Major League Baseball, facing opposition from the players' union, tried unsuccessfully to ban it, but it is banned at the minor league level.

The move is particularly poignant in San Diego. Padres Hall-of-Famer and former San Diego State baseball coach Tony Gwynn said in 2010 that he had salivary gland cancer, and he blamed it on decades of chewing tobacco. Gwynn died in June of last year.

Former San Diego State star pitcher Stephen Strasburg, now in the big leagues, and former Padres manager Bruce Bochy worked hard to kick the addiction. Former Padres players Jake Peavy and Mark Kotsay did not favor a ban, and Gwynn did not work to eliminate its use among others players.

San Diegan Doug Harvey, former Major League umpire, and also a member of the Hall of Fame, blames his esophageal cancer on longtime use of chewing tobacco. He has toured the nation making speeches against the addiction.

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And so starts the procession of questions.
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Comments
61

What else should be banned because it's bad for us? Or might be bad for us? Or someone else thinks it's bad for us? Or it isn't good for us? Or not good enough? Cigarettes? Alcohol? Fast food? Red meat? Bread? Cheese?

Chewing is stupid. Moronically stupid. But if we aren't free to make stupid choices, how are we free?

Oct. 12, 2015

I am opposed to laws like this. I do feel bad for Tony Gwinn and his family. But I don't think the government should restrict adults' freedoms in order to protect people from themselves.

Oct. 13, 2015

ImJustABill: It's not a matter of protecting people from themselves. It's a matter of protecting the public from others (smokers). I agree with that. Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 14, 2015

I thought this bill banned smokeless tobacco products.

Oct. 14, 2015

ImJustABill: Yes, smokeless tobacco is banned at the MLB California ballparks. But this discussion had veered into other forms of tobacco, and whether or not governments had a right to ban certain things. Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 15, 2015

jnojr: You make a good point, which is consistent with your seemingly conservative/libertarian views. I disagree, but concede that you have a very good argument.

The Assembly passed the bill in June on a 42-25 vote. Republicans mostly voted no and many Democrats didn't vote. There were changes to the bill that discouraged early advocates. Even the California branch of the American Cancer Society, originally a strong supporter, dropped its backing.

It won't surprise you to know that San Francisco banned players from chewing tobacco at its major league AT&T Park, as well as other athletic venues, back in May. Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 12, 2015

Yeah, I have to say that I share some of jr's concerns. It's a helluva price to pay, however, when lives of real gentlemen like Gwyn and Seau, who make such good role models for young men and boys, are cut short by stupidity. But what concerns me most is the kind of political correctness that stifles discussion on ALL of the merits and problems with issues of public concern. I find myself frequently at odds with both extremes, particularly when they start something and suck one into a conversation, then pull out when they don't get their way.

I continue to believe, despite ample evidence to the contrary, that mature individuals have a responsibility to carry on honest debate to a conclusion. There is just too much hot air and not enough sincerity and an unwillingness ever to be wrong, and mature enough to admit it.

It seems that the old saw, "I've been wrong only once, and that was one time when I thought I was wrong. Maybe Fred Williams will weigh in on this one?

Oct. 12, 2015

Only want to repeat what I've said before...traditional chewing tobacco and Swedish Snus are very different products, not to be conflated. Chaw is fermented. Snus is not. Chaw is put directly into contact with your mouth. Snus is not. There is considerable research on the subject if you're interested in learning more, and the consensus seems to be that snus is not associated with oral, esophogeal, or gastric cancers.

That doesn't mean Swedish snus is harmless...but compared with the alternatives, the choice is clear.

Harm reduction is something that's often ignored in these discussions. A lot of people I know (especially my friends in Stockholm) use snus to reduce or stop smoking. While snus is not 100% safe (nothing is) it's well established that it's far less damaging to health than cigarettes.

From the World Health Organization:

"Sweden is the only country to have reached the WHO goal of reducing cigarette smoking to less than 20% of the adult population. Sweden has one of the most effective anti-smoking policies in Europe, measured by the significant reduction of the numbers of smokers. Snus has played an important role in achieving this goal, since 54% of the snus consumers are ex-smokers."

So based on the evidence, it's clear that if you are a nicotine user, you'd be well-advised to replace cigarettes or chewing tobacco with snus. It's not harmless, but undoubtedly a lot less harmful.

Additionally, since there's no spitting involved...for all you pro-baseball players, you can use snus and no one will be the wiser. So if you want to avoid this ban, just switch to snus.

Oct. 13, 2015

Fred: A Swedish study last year concluded that quitting snus after a heart attack had a positive effect similar to that of quitting smoking after an attack. Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 13, 2015

Twister: George W. Bush uttered something similar to the wonderful old saw you quote. I think he was asked if he had ever made a mistake, and at first he couldn't think of any. Then he mumbled something about an appointment he had made, or something like that, but he didn't specify who the bad appointee was. Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 12, 2015

Twister: P.S.: George W. Bush still refuses to say that the Iraq invasion was a bad idea or a bad outcome. As far as I know, he won't admit that Cheney doctored the CIA reports. Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 13, 2015

What pisses me off is that Obama didn't extradite those (Watch your mouth! The word "a-----e" is not allowed here.) a$$holes to the World Court. Mass-murder? What else would you call it?

[Note: Got hit by the Reader's word police; had to make a silly amendment, as if kids and other offendeds couldn't crack the code. If we can't have Carlin, do we have "free" speech?]

Oct. 13, 2015

Twister; Maybe we have word police, but I think we permit more use of so-called bad language than other publications in this market. Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 14, 2015

Nothing tops the time I was chastityized by Wordperfect (when the company was based in Utah) for writing Homo sapiens. "Do not use hurtful language" or some such morally superior and condescending tone.

The Reader police could, however, simply say that the word was not permitted rather than get into the scolding thing.

But I realize that context is everything, and this culture is even more blue-nosed than the bible-thumping one I grew up in. For example, women nursed their babies openly without suffocating them with claustrophobic cloths and having to suffer the indignities that so many mothers have to today.

This culture has a lot of growing up to do, and suppression of expression and control-freakery, like imposing "democracy" around the world at the tip of a drone, are not likely to achieve our self-righteous dreams of a "new world order."

Fellow readers of the Reader, put your oars into the water and paddle against all currents of absurdity (calling them as you see them) with vigor! Don't run and hide whilst Gary Cooper has to take "them" on alone.

Mediocrity is no excuse.

Oct. 15, 2015

Twister: You have invented a splendid word: chastityized. I can think of a number of people who try to ex post facto chastityize themselves. Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 16, 2015

In one of the early debates I think GWB mentioned trading Randy Johnson while he was Texas Rangers owner as his big mistake.

Some psychology research indicates that political and business leaders tend to be sociopaths or even psychopaths. They don't process their failings and mistakes properly, which ironically leads to their rise in the ranks.

http://conspiracy-watch.org/statistics-show-psychopaths-sociopaths-rule-world/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/victorlipman/2013/04/25/the-disturbing-link-between-psychopathy-and-leadership/

Oct. 13, 2015

ImJustABill: I believe some corporate heads are, in fact, sociopaths. I certainly have run across some. This applies to certain lawyers, too. Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 14, 2015

Here's one of those statements that should not be permitted to gather dust in some "cloud." It bears repeating and repeating and repeating.

Oct. 15, 2015

Twister: You should know some of the dirty tricks CEOs and their lawyers try to do to journalists who have the goods on them. I could almost fill a book on that. Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 16, 2015

I'm no fan of tobacco in any of its variants. As a young officer, I was about the only one in my section who didn't smoke or chew. Just never wanted to do that. But tobacco was then so embedded in our culture that I despaired that I'd ever live in a world where I could avoid cigarette smoke. Forty years ago, my wife and I would avoid going out to dine and avoid shows where smoking was permitted--and that was just about everywhere. So we saved a lot of money by staying home. During that period I was breathing a daily bucketful of second-hand smoke in the office.

But then in the early 80's a wonderful thing happened. Smoking was banned in many venues, and most employers here in CA made their workplaces smoke-free. Of all the many developments in my life, I look back on the banishment of smoking as one of the best. Even North Carolina, the "Cigarette State", now bans indoor smoking, and that sort of ban has spread through Europe. As recently as fifteen years ago, it seemed as if every German over the age of 14 was a chain smoker. No longer so. (Now if the French and Swiss could make similar inroads . . .)

But "smokeless tobacco" was somehow different. A guy could pack his cheek with a chaw and not offend anyone, right? Well, sort of, unless you had to watch him spit every several seconds, and could stay out of the way of his squirt. All harmless except to the guy (and occasional female) dong it.

Oh, I can recall stuff put out by pro baseball in the 1980 era showing players, managers and coaches posing with their drug of choice. Redman seemed to be the preferred chew for those who went for the cut leaf. As far as snuff (snuz) went, there were a number of brands that vied for the marketplace.

My point is that using tobacco, even the smokeless variety, does bother others who aren't using it. While I share many things with libertarians, I will not go back to an era of breathing cigarette everywhere I go, and I don't like tobacco juice spitters either.

Oct. 12, 2015

Visduh: I am with you. I quit smoking at age 27 or 28. I enjoy not having to put up with cigarette smoke. I favored the anti-tobacco moves.

Of course, cynics could look at it another way. The reduction in smoking is one of the factors that has led to longer lifespans. And increased longevity puts a financial strain on Medicare and Social Security.

I quit drinking, too, more than 40 years ago. But I would hardly be in favor of another Prohibition. That was a disaster. Cracking down on drunken driving is OK, but I would not like to see bans on alcohol. In most of my social situations, people are imbibing, and it doesn't bother me a bit.

I will say this: when other states realize how much the legalization of marijuana has stimulated the Colorado economy, we are going to see other states legalize marijuana, just as the returns on gambling motivated one state after another to legalize it.

I don't know much about drug usage, but I would guess that widespread pot-smoking would reduce alcohol consumption. But maybe not -- I haven't read much on that topic. Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 12, 2015

Snuff is an inhaled powered form of tobacco.

Snus is tobacco in a pouch that goes into your mouth, and requires no spitting.

Chewing tobacco is fermented, requires frequent spitting, and is associated with some forms of oral and throat cancer.

Oct. 13, 2015

Fred Williams: When I wrote my first column on baseballers' tobacco usage (March 14, 2012), some people argued strenuously for snus. It is apparently less dangerous than chewing tobacco, and may help some people quit smoking, but it seems to me that it is a half-measure. Why not just quit? Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 13, 2015

Most ball players no longer chew, that was a part of the older sub-culture. I didn't know Peavy well, but I got to know Kotsay, we have a little history in common from his days playing at Cal State Fullerton. One afternoon I was sitting in the dugout before a game, waiting to shoot pics of the guys taking BP. Kotsay is interviewing with a gal reporter for FOX Sports SD, and he's talking about his first manager, Jim Leyland, when Mark came up with the Marlins.

Kots looks at me and says, "Hey, this isn't for reporting." Leyland used to sneak cigarettes in the dugout near the bat rack between innings. I told Mark I already knew about it, it wasn't a secret, television even caught him in the act back in the day. I know that Kotsay doesn't smoke, but I believe at one time he did chew. I believe he quit several years prior to joining the Padres.

I also told Mark about growing up in Los Angeles watching the Dodgers play. We all caught former catcher Steve Yeager sneaking a cigarette now and then in the tunnel leading to the club house. The modern ball player doesn't smoke and I doubt that many chew, I didn't notice it in the 2+ years I covered the Padres. I doubt that the Player's Union will gripe about this California law, it simply isn't the issue it once was. These days the players are very conscious of what goes into their bodies, the minimum salary in MLB is close to 1/2 million per season. That, and clubs like to protect their investments.

Oct. 12, 2015

David Dodd: I have not read whether the players union has come out against the California ban. Very possibly, as you suggest, the players won't oppose it as strenuously as they opposed a Major League Baseball attempt to ban it earlier. Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 13, 2015

I want a Constitutional Amendment that says "Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of any individual unless that freedom abridges the freedom of others."

In other words, your freedom to swing your fist stops at, or in threatening proximity to, my jaw or person or other innocent party.

Tw

Oct. 13, 2015

Twister: Trouble is, one can argue that his of her freedom is abridged by almost anything. Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 13, 2015

It's really tough to articulate how you're being deprived of your freedom or rights or property because someone else is chewing tobacco, or smoking, or smoking pot. If you don't like smoke, you can move away, or tell others they cannot smoke on your property, or tell the property owner, "They go or I do"

I quit smoking 20 years ago, but I wholeheartedly believe that any business should be free to allow smoking, and we should be free to choose to patronize them or not, and they can succeed or fail depending on how many people agree with their decision.

Oct. 13, 2015

I will charge the SOB with assault. Better yet, lock the bastard in a closed room with his own goddamn smoke. Your freedom to intentionally swing your fist ends where I said it does, and I WILL counter the assault with ALL force necessary to neutralize you. Freedom, my a$$!

Oct. 13, 2015

Twister: But your freedom to punch jnojr in the kisser ends at his kisser. Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 13, 2015

jnojr: At the rate states have been banning smoking in public places, I would suspect that your view is a minority one. Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 13, 2015

You can't regulate stupid but California will keep trying.

Oct. 13, 2015

AlexClarke: Next, someone will argue that the chewing gum industry is helping to finance anti-smoking and anti-tobacco-chewing laws. It probably is. Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 13, 2015

The gum chewing industry is owned by the dental industry. More cavities more business.

Oct. 13, 2015

AlexClarke: On that topic, I have always wondered why, every time I visit a dentist, I am scolded for not flossing. Having your patients floss daily is bad for the dental business. Puzzling. Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 13, 2015

that way the dentist can blame any problems you have on you.

Oct. 17, 2015

dumb people make dumb choices.

Oct. 13, 2015

MurphyjunkL Yes, and even smart people often make dumb choices. Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 13, 2015

Well, I'm happy to get support here for banning all red traffic lights. If I don't feel like stopping when the municipality says "stop," I'm gonna breeze on through that intersection.

Chaw? Snuff? Snus?( I have never heard of snus.) Pick your poison.

Your readers can pretend that major league baseball players are all so health-conscious and rich that they won't use chewing tobacco, but high school baseball players use it and they influence their younger audience. Nine-year-old Little Leaguers know about chewing tobacco's cool. It's deadly and disgusting. If California, the biggest state in the nation with the most major league baseball teams bans chewing tobacco, I'd say more good than harm is being done. It's proof that you CAN regulate idiots.

Oct. 13, 2015

monaghan: I agree: chewing tobacco is deadly and disgusting. Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 14, 2015

Baseball is all about marketing, especially to the next generation of fans. It's a slow and dull game with long intervals of nothing occasionally interrupted by 30 seconds of noise and 3 or 4 participants actually moving. Without the hype from the sportscaster and interminable statistics there would be no content at all.

So why, in such a marketing oriented activity, do they allow that disgusting spitting everywhere? When I saw my first televised game in the mid 50s I couldn't believe the revolting activity. Where I grew up, nobody would spit in public- only those nasty people in the slums.

Team owners missed an opportunity to portray a wholesome sport. If I was an owner, I'd be watching my employees on and off the field. The smallest scandal or misbehavior can be a reflection on the team, the league, and ultimately all professional sports.

Oct. 13, 2015

swell: I watch little baseball, too, for most of the same reasons you shun it. (On the other hand, I watch golf, which can be slow and dull.

Question: How many times does a ball hit into the outfield land in a pile of masticated tobacco? Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 14, 2015

"The smallest scandal or misbehavior can be a reflection on the team, the league, and ultimately all professional sports." with any "professional" ) and use the term professional loosely, it is a good reflection of their true morals

Oct. 14, 2015

Murphyjunk: You don't go to a sports event to watch the sports stars display their morals. Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 14, 2015

Richard Pecjak Jr.: States have a right to do what California did, but I don't think this is a states' rights issue. Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 14, 2015

john Beckendorf: Governments at every level have a right -- in many cases obligation -- to tell people what they can and cannot do. E.g.: steal and murder. Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 14, 2015

Ronald Gee: Disagree. It IS about tobacco. It is NOT about control, although some cases are. Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 14, 2015

Eric Wesson: I would hardly call it Marxism. Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 14, 2015

Gossip is bad, but not illegal; therefore I hope we contributors are all safe from the clutches of the law.

Suicide is legal, I suppose, as long as you do it slowly and painfully and expensively enough. It does get complicated, but we all pay through taxes, higher insurance, and medical bills, for example, for all kinds of damn foolishness. Rescuers even lose their lives and suffer hardship because of damn fools who are too stupid to come in out of the rain, etc.

Tw

Oct. 14, 2015

Twister: I hope gossip is never made illegal. I do know that at some universities rules have been put in place so that students are not supposed to make racist and sexist slurs, etc. That is taking thought control too far. Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 14, 2015

It's the old "camel's-nose-in-the-tent" story all over again. Or "boiling a live frog." All kinds of control-freaks will not stop at controlling what color you paint your mailbox--"Today ze mailbox, tomorrow ze vorld!" It's inhuman nature. "First they came for . . . then they came for . . . me, but it was too late to stop them by then." That's why one must operate from principle, not from anecdote--no matter how well it aligns with one's prejudices.

Oct. 15, 2015

Twister: When a municipality imposes rules on its citizens -- say, mailboxes should be the same color -- it usually comes down to money. (In the case of the color of mailboxes, the motivation is real estate values.)

When puzzled by a public or private sector action, you seldom go wrong taking this advice: Look for the monetary motivation. In many cases, Follow the Money. Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 15, 2015

Hey guys...in the words of Putney Swope, (Cinematic Advertising Man): "Beer is pee pee dickie!". Same goes true for the billions spent on smoking tobacco. Chewing is pathetic...If you are an ADULT and want to chew and spit into the spittoon before sex with your wife (Hopefully also a chewer), have at it. Ya' celebrate baseball and yet don't think having man-childs chew, spit and massage the crotch has any effect on youngsters. The crotch stuff has a direct effect on rates of self abuse (The statistics are somewhere around here). In any event: SCREW TONY GUINN! He chose to knowingly engage in cancer producing behavior so not one iota of caring from here. But his effect on young kids is immeasurable...I had a nephew who idolized him...and yes he started chewing. Sarkisian just got fired for being a drunk in public...and the poor man-childs can't chew in public? Sob. Here's the real test: Go ahead and engage in this risky behavior when you are an adult and not representing the national pastime...but when the cancer hits refuse all insurance for treatment, especially public funds (medicare is Socialism!) cause you did what you wanted. Hock--Spit--and jump into the grave.

Oct. 14, 2015

expdx: Actually, some scientists (or doctors) said at the time of Gwynn's death that the tobacco chewing might not have been responsible for his cancer. I found that startling, but I am not a scientist or doctor. Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 14, 2015

Tobacco had nothing to do with Tony Gwynn's death or illness. Fact.

Oct. 14, 2015

Sjtorres: Fact? I wouldn't be so sure. Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 15, 2015

Why am I astounded at the generosity of spirit that still exists in this culture?

Oct. 15, 2015

Twister: Does generosity of spirit still exist on this blog? Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 15, 2015

Generosity of spirit does exist when behavior and circumstances warrant it. If an adult wishes to engage in risky behavior, fine. Example: Riding a motorcycle without a helmet. For an adult to engage in this behavior might be his or her choice, but PUBLIC money should not be spent to care for the resultant mental vegetables. I have been in those wards. Let the practitioner of this behavior find their own insurance risk pool to cover said behavior. What were the costs of Tony Gwynn's medical procedures and what effects did these costs have on the premiums of others in his risk pool? Yes, Virginia, insurance risk pools are a form of SOCIALISM. Let the hypocritical libertarians rail about government intrusion...so...why couldn't pre-school educators be allowed to chew and expectorate in the classroom? The tragedy was that Gwynn was an addict who never faced down his behavior. And yeah, there is always a Doctor who will Say for Pay. In this case the public good is served by banning risky behavior when getting recompensed for a public activity. spit, splat, wipe.

Oct. 15, 2015

expdx: Agreed. The public good is often served by banning certain types of behaviors.

Reminder: conservatives and business executives rant about government intrusion -- but they still go on and demand government subsidies for ballparks, auto dealers, hotels, shopping centers, etc. Welfare for the rich is fine; welfare for the poor, who need welfare, is evil. Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 15, 2015

Good question.

Oct. 15, 2015

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