Tony Gwynn’s death helps convince Stephen Strasburg to quit tobacco


(John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

Three years ago, not long after his college coach Tony Gwynn received a cancer diagnosis, Stephen Strasburg vowed to quit using smokeless tobacco. From Adam Kilgore’s story:

In the wake of Gwynn’s cancer diagnosis, Strasburg has resolved to quit smokeless tobacco while he recuperates from Tommy John surgery. He doesn’t want to face the myriad health risks borne from tobacco use, and he doesn’t want kids who want to be like him to see him with a packed lower lip. Strasburg conflates many activities with dipping, and he has yet to eradicate the habit. But he is determined he will.

“I’m still in the process of quitting,” Strasburg, 22, said. “I’ve made a lot of strides, stopped being so compulsive with it. I’m hoping I’m going to be clean for spring training. It’s going to be hard, because it’s something that’s embedded in the game.”…

“I was one of those kids that picked it up based on seeing ballplayers do it,” Strasburg said. “It’s not a good thing, and I don’t want to represent myself like that. That’s one of the big reasons. Another reason is, when I do have kids, I don’t want my kids to be like that, too.”

Strasburg has since since become a father. And he’s now making a renewed effort to quit. Via MLB.com’s Bill Ladson:

During Monday’s interview, Strasburg was chewing tobacco. Gwynn believed chewing tobacco was the reason he developed salivary gland cancer. Strasburg said he plans to quit chewing tobacco for the sake of his daughter.

Strasburg said he started chewing tobacco long before he started playing for Gwynn at San Diego State. Strasburg said he didn’t know that Gwynn dipped.

“I think it’s a disgusting habit, looking back on it,” Strasburg said. “I was pretty naive when I started. Just doing it here and there, I didn’t think it was going to be such an addiction. … Bottom line is, I want to be around for my family. This is something that can affect people the rest of your life. [Chewing tobacco is] so prevalent in this game. It’s something we all kind of grew up doing.”

Arizona reliever Addison Reed — Strasburg’s college teammate — also announced recently he was quitting. So did current teammate Ian Desmond.

Dan Steinberg writes about all things DC sports at the DC Sports Bog.
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