CDA supports removing tobacco from baseball stadiums

CDA is supporting new legislation that would remove tobacco from baseball stadiums in California and increase the tax on cigarettes.

AB 768 (Tony Thurmond; D-Richmond) would ban the use of all tobacco products in any baseball stadium in the state. Under the proposed legislation, a citation would be issued to anyone, including baseball players, who use tobacco products in a baseball stadium. The legislation recognizes that professional athletes are role models for America’s youth, and overt use of tobacco products promotes its use. The goal of this legislation is to reduce the incidence of tobacco addiction, which predominately occurs in the teenage years, and lead by example in terms of other states adopting similar legislation.

In addition, SB 591 (Richard Pan; D-Sacramento) has been introduced, which would increase the tax on cigarettes by $2 per pack.

“CDA is pleased that these pieces of legislation have been introduced because we know how damaging tobacco products are to both oral and overall health,” said Walt Weber, DDS, president of CDA. “Hopefully, if passed, these laws would highlight the dangers of tobacco use, increase funding for oral health programs and help reduce the number of users in California, particularly among those most vulnerable to addiction, our youth."

According to the FDA, tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of disease, disability and death in the United States, responsible for more than 480,000 deaths each year.

All forms of tobacco contain high concentrations of cancer-causing agents, and these substances subject users to increased cancer risk not only of the oral cavity, but also the pharynx, larynx and esophagus. Other traits of long-term tobacco users include stained teeth, halitosis, gum disease and a dulled sense of taste and smell.

With the recent passing of Major League Baseball great Tony Gwynn from mouth cancer, CDA reminds dentists that they should help their patients stop using tobacco and smokeless tobacco products.

Experience shows that a patient who has “had this spot forever” can easily overlook an oral cancer lesion, which often grows slowly and may be painless. Dentists are often the only health professionals who regularly see the patient and can stay engaged in ensuring that a "spot" is not, and does not become, a threat to the patient's health. Dentists should conduct regular oral cancer screenings on all patients. In addition to consistent documentation of screenings, follow-up and referral of any suspicious lesion or area is strongly recommended.

Danger signs of oral cancer include:

  • A sore that does not heal.
  • A lump or white patch.
  • A prolonged sore throat.
  • Difficulty chewing.
  • Restricted movement of the tongue or jaws.
  • A feeling of something in the throat.

Dentists can help their patients become tobacco free by using the online tobacco cessation information on U.S. Health and Human Services' Be Tobacco Free website or Smokefree.gov. Dentists also can refer their patients to 800.QUITNOW (800.784.8669) or 800.NOBUTTS (800.662.8887) for phone support and to set up a personalized plan to quit.

For more information on smokeless tobacco use in Major League Baseball athletes, read the January CDA Journal.