Major League Baseball (MLB) teams will be playing ball this year with limits on the use of smokeless tobacco. As part of the agreement between the MLB and the Players Association, team members will not be allowed to keep smokeless tobacco in their back pockets or anywhere else in their uniforms when on the field or whenever ball fans are in the park. Likewise they will not be allowed to chew a wad of smokeless tobacco when meeting fans or being interviewed.
Smokeless tobacco impacts on oral health as it can cause oral cancer. Its use has risen nearly 37% among high school boys since 2003. Baseball player are often role models for these youngsters who emulate their heroes – chewing, spitting, and reloading a wad of tobacco under their lower lip (dipping) – and follow the path to addiction. The former San Diego Padres hitter, Tony Gwynn, who now coaches baseball at San Diego State University, is a prominent former dipping addict. He was unsuccessful in quitting the habit and now has salivary cancer. He has had four oral surgeries to remove cancerous tumors.