The warning found on tobacco products clearly
defines the risk of using the product. Athletes like San Diego Padres Hall of
Famer Tony Gwynn have ignored the labels for decades despite knowing the risks.
Gwynn is just one victim in a long line of
athletes that utilize tobacco products. That list includes junior hockey
I've been visiting a number of teams and have discovered that the use of these products is wide-spread. In the hallways, dressing room and even in the coaches' office, the signature "spitter" is everywhere.
What part of "this stuff will kill you" is everybody missing?
According to the Mouth Cancer Foundation,
tobacco and alcohol are the most important oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancer
risk factors. Mouth cancer is largely a lifestyle disease, meaning that the
majority of cases are related to tobacco and alcohol use. Approximately 90% of
people with mouth cancer are tobacco users.
People, who stop using tobacco, even after many years of use, can
greatly reduce their risk of all smoking related illnesses, including mouth
cancer. The best way to avoid these cancers is to never start smoking or
chewing tobacco in any form.
Studies have shown that about 7% to 27% of
regular spit tobacco users have gum recession and bone loss around the teeth.
Tobacco can irritate or destroy the gum tissue.
Smokeless tobacco products are a major source
of cancer-causing nitrosamines and a known cause of human cancer. They increase
the risk of developing cancer of the mouth and throat, esophagus (swallowing
tube), and pancreas. Smokeless tobacco kills fewer people than smoking, but
using any form of tobacco harms health and can cause death. (Source: Cancer
Prevention & Early Detection Facts and Figures 2010).
So boys, why are you doing this? That
"It can't happen to me" thought process is destructive. I used that
same mindset back 1995 to a few years ago in regards to the use of ibuprofen. The idea was to
eliminate headaches from a major head injury. I was told to rotate pain medications but ibuprofen was my go-to fix. I'm paying the price now.
On one of my visits, there were a group of pee-wee players talking to some of the junior guys near the dressing room before a game. Every one of the junior players, and the coaches, had a big dip in the lip.
What kind of message are we passing onto the youngsters?
Coaches need to take the no-tobacco approach
to their teams. Usage of these products should be banned. The last thing we
want to see is a young twelve year-old with a mouthful because he's been
inspired by the junior team. Forget that.
It's time to spit the crap out for good.
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