There has long been a debate about the role of smokeless or chewing tobacco in Major League Baseball. The debate has intensified recently following the death of San Diego Padres All-Star Tony Gwynn to cancer believed to be related to his use of chewing tobacco.
As a result of the more intense scrutiny, San Francisco’s mayor recently signed a ban on smokeless tobacco at all sporting venues in the city. And there’s a statewide ban currently being considered in the California Assembly that would keep smokeless tobacco out of all Major League Baseball stadiums.
A Dangerous Tradition
Many people, including the MLB player’s union (which reportedly opposes a ban on chewing tobacco in MLB parks), consider chewing tobacco to be part of the game. But if it is, it’s a potentially deadly one.
Smokeless tobacco use has been associated with an increased risk of oral cancer, as well as a much higher risk of gum disease and tooth loss. Use of chewing tobacco can even prevent a person from getting dental implants because it can lead to infection around the implants, receding gums and bone loss.
One thing that this current debate highlights is the different attitude people have toward chewing tobacco as opposed to smoking. There is a common perception that chewing tobacco is a “safer” tobacco alternative because, unlike smoking, it is not associated with lung cancer. As a result of this prejudice, there is already a ban in place on smoking at all MLB stadiums, but chewing tobacco is not.
That chewing tobacco is a safer alternative has been exposed by the FDA, which has considered many applications to label chewing tobacco as a safer alternative, including most recently the Swedish tobacco known as snus. None of these applications have been approved because chewing tobacco does not have good evidence to support claims that it is safer.
In the light of this information, it only makes sense that smokeless tobacco should be treated the same as smoking. If the one is banned, the other should be, too.
If you are currently using smokeless tobacco, quitting is your best chance to restore your oral health. If you are looking for a San Diego dentist who can help undo the damage, please call Strober Dental at (619) 299-5925 today for an appointment.