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Late baseball superstar Tony Gwynn’s family sues the tobacco giant Altria

Tony used to fall asleep with a chew of the Skoal stuck in his mouth. This developed into salivary gland cancer and he died in 2014.

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Tony Gwynn watching his team play

The late Major League Baseball superstar Tony Gwynn’s family is suing Altria a tobacco giant alleging that the company enticed him into taking up dip tobacco habit. This addiction caused cancer to Tony and killed him at age 54.

A lawsuit has been filed in Superior Court in San Diego, California. It alleges the company for its negligence, product liability and fraud for selling a product they knew was dangerous and failing to warn users.

Altria sells dip tobacco in a small pouch or can and this can be held in mouth between the gum and lip. Some believe that it is a harmless alternative to smoking.

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The company gave Tony free samples of dip when he was at attending San Diego State University. Tony had become addicted and started using two cans of Skoal brand tobacco everyday while playing professional baseball with the San Diego Padres said his family.

His daughter, Anisha Gwynn-Jones, said the whole industry used her father as a “walking billboard” for their product.

The Baseball superstar’s family said Tony would often fall asleep with a chew of the Skoal stuck in his mouth. This developed into salivary gland cancer and he died in 2014.

The tobacco gaint Altria his hasn’t made any official comment about the lawsuit.

Many cities like Boston, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco with Major League Baseball teams have outlawed use of smokeless tobacco for their players and also inside ballparks.

-by Bhaskar Raghavendran

Bhaskar is a graduate in Journalism and mass communication from Amity school of communication, Noida. Contact the author at Twitter: bhaskar_ragha

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New Device Equally Harmful as E-cigarettes

"If the current trend continues, tobacco use will cause more than eight million deaths annually by 2030 around the world," noted Sharma

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E-cigarettes, Smokers
Talia Eisenberg, co-founder of the Henley Vaporium, uses her vaping device in New York, Feb. 20, 2014. VOA

While we know about the harmful effects of traditional cigarettes and vaping, new heated tobacco devices are no less toxic to the human lung cells than ordinary cigarette smoke, said researchers, including one of Indian-origin.

The study has compared new heated tobacco devices, which heat solid tobacco instead of an e-liquid, with vaping and traditional cigarettes showing that all the three are toxic to the cells.

In addition, these newer electronic nicotine delivery devices can destroy lung tissue leading to fatal diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer and pneumonia, and can increase the risk of developing asthma.

“Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death, and with the introduction of e-cigarettes in the last decade, the trend of nicotine uptake is not going to slow down in the near future,” said Pawan Sharma, a researcher at the University of Technology Sydney.

“The latest addition in this emerging trend is the planned and vigorous introduction of heated tobacco devices. They are commonly called next generation or heat-not-burn products. We know very little about the health effects of these new devices, so we designed this research to compare them with cigarette smoking and vaping,” added Sharma.

For the study, researchers tested the effects of all three nicotine sources on two types of cells taken from the human airways: epithelial cells and smooth muscle cells.

E-cigarettes, Smokers
A woman smokes an electronic cigarette in London, Aug. 19, 2015. VOA

In healthy lungs, epithelial cells act as the first line of defence to any foreign particles entering the airway while smooth muscle cells maintain the structure of the airway. However, smoking can lead to difficulty in breathing primarily by hampering the normal functions of these cells.

The team exposed the cells to different concentrations of cigarette smoke, e-cigarette vapour and vapour from a heated tobacco device, and measured whether this was damaging to cells and whether it affected the cells’ normal functions.

The findings, published in ERJ Open Research, showed that cigarette smoke and heated tobacco vapour were highly toxic to the cells both at lower and higher concentrations while e-cigarette vapour demonstrated toxicity mainly at higher concentrations.

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Importantly, the review of the European Respiratory Society’s Tobacco Control Committee’s own data on these devices has shown that, in rats, there is evidence of lung inflammation, and there is no evidence of improvement in lung inflammation and function in smokers who switch to heated tobacco, said Professor Charlotta Pisinger from the varsity.

“If the current trend continues, tobacco use will cause more than eight million deaths annually by 2030 around the world,” noted Sharma. (IANS)