REASON #1: Smokeless tobacco is harmful
Public health authorities including the Surgeon General and the National Cancer Institute have found that smokeless tobacco use is hazardous to health and can lead to nicotine addiction. Smokeless tobacco contains at least 28 cancer-causing chemicals and causes oral, pancreatic and esophageal cancer. Use of smokeless tobacco is also associated with other health problems including lesions in the mouth and tooth decay.
REASON #2: Too many kids are using it
Even as cigarette use continues a steady decline among youth, smokeless tobacco use has remained troublingly steady. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the use of smokeless tobacco among youth has held steady since 1999. In 2013, 14.7 percent of high-school boys and 8.8 percent of all high-school students reported current use of smokeless tobacco products. Each year, about 535,000 kids age 12-17 use smokeless tobacco for the first time.
REASON #3: Reinforces tobacco marketing
Smokeless tobacco companies are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to get young people to use their products. In fact, marketing and promotional expenditures for the top five smokeless tobacco companies totaled nearly $452 million in 2011 (the most recent year available), more than three times the amount spent in 1998. Smokeless tobacco continues to be heavily advertised in magazines with large youth readerships, often with a message telling teen boys they can’t be real men without smokeless tobacco. The ads have tag lines like “May cause the urge to act like a man.” Smokeless tobacco use in baseball reinforces that message.
REASON #4: Professional players are role models
An expert from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that, “Professional athletes in certain sports, including baseball . . . have traditionally had high levels of smokeless tobacco use. Athletes serve as role models for youth, and smokeless tobacco manufacturers have used advertising, images, and testimonials featuring athletes and sports to make smokeless tobacco products appear attractive to youth. Children and teens closely observe athletes’ actions, including their use of tobacco products, and are influenced by what they see. Adolescents tend to mimic the behaviors of those they look up to and identify with, including baseball players and other athletes.”