This summer, former Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling announced that he had undergone treatment for oral cancer, which he clearly attributes to this 30-year history of smokeless tobacco use (he was not a smoker).
According to an article at MLB News:
"Curt Schilling said
Wednesday that he believes his use of smokeless tobacco led to oral
cancer that required radiation and chemotherapy. Schilling revealed the
type of cancer he had while speaking on WEEI Radio during the Boston
station's annual fund-raising broadcast for the Jimmy Fund. "I do believe without a doubt, unquestionably, that chewing is what gave me cancer," he said. During the broadcast, Schilling issued a warning to smokeless tobacco users. "It's like being given a death sentence without committing a crime," Schilling said. ... Schilling, who pitched in the Majors for 20 years, said that he used
smokeless tobacco for 30 years and that he had been unable to kick the
habit despite pain associated with it. "It's a dangerously addictive habit that I wish I had never done," Schilling said."
According to the American Cancer Society:
"Oral tobacco products (snuff or chewing tobacco) are linked with cancers
of the cheek, gums, and inner surface of the lips. Using oral tobacco
products for a long time poses an especially high risk. These products
also cause gum disease, destruction of the bone sockets around teeth,
and tooth loss. It is also important for people who have been treated
for oral cavity or oropharyngeal cancer to give up any oral tobacco
According to the National Cancer Institute:
"Smokeless tobacco causes oral cancer, esophageal cancer, and pancreatic cancer."
The Rest of the Story
I think it is high time that Major League Baseball declare a ban on the use of smokeless tobacco products during all formal MLB activities (including games and practices/warmups at which the public is present). Like smoking, the use of smokeless tobacco by major league baseball players sets a bad example for the thousands of youth watching in the stadium as well as the millions who may be watching on television. Smoking is not allowed during games. Neither should smokeless tobacco use.
The use of smokeless tobacco has already been banned in minor league baseball (in 1993). Now is the time for Commissioner Bud Selig to take the next step, the right step, and ban smokeless tobacco use as well.