Chewing tobacco: It’s not just ‘part of the game’

After the World Series champion is decided this week, one thing will be left up in the air: Will Major League Baseball ban chewing tobacco?

Lawmakers recently proposed this, saying it sets a bad example for young fans.

Unfortunately, I see a lot of kids who use chewing tobacco, although they never admit it during their visits. I generally see it with kids from more rural areas and smaller schools, but definitely in the baseball population.

The first problem with smokeless tobacco is that it’s addictive. It’s not realistic – or safe – to chew it just during sports.

The risks of chewing tobacco range from bad teeth to death. It can cause cavities, gum disease and lesions. This is because tobacco is contains coarse particles and a lot of sugar.

Smokeless tobacco can cause cancer in your esophagus, mouth, throat, cheek, gums, lips and tongue. This cancer can be life-threatening. And surgery to remove this cancer could leave you disfigured. Tobacco users also face higher risks of other types of cancer.

Clearly, chewing tobacco, like smoking cigarettes, can cause serious health problems. I should also note that it hasn’t been proved to help you quit smoking. If you try to switch one for the other, you could end up with two harmful habits.

Despite whether Major League Baseball bans tobacco, it’s important for parents – and even coaches – to talk to their kids about the dangers of tobacco. Almost all first-time tobacco use happens during high school – if not earlier.

So, talk to your children about not using tobacco. And if they are using it – or you are – talk to your doctor about effective ways to quit.

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