Tobacco killed Tony Gwynn [Letter]

June 18, 2014

As a fan of both baseball and all around good guys, I was saddened to hear about the premature death of Tony Gwynn at 54 ("What a sad day as Tony Gwynn leaves us too soon," June 16).

Tony was one of the very best of his era, a batting champion many times, multiple All Star Team member, and an inductee into the baseball Hall of Fame along with the Orioles' own Cal Ripken.

Many words were spoken about this outstanding figure from the world of sports, but very few were devoted to how was it that such a superb athlete came to such an early end. He died of cancer brought about by the use of the most deadly substance legally available in our society — tobacco.

There are a number of reasons why it is so difficult to convince folks not to partake of tobacco. Taking actions that will result in one's death is generally called suicide. But in this case, it's slow motion suicide.

You don't smoke a cigarette or take a dip of snuff and drop dead. If anything, once you get past the initial coughing and nausea, it seems rather pleasant. Pretty soon, you find it almost impossible to stop because you're addicted. Its not until 20 or 30 years later when the doctor tells you that the cancer has spread and its too late or, if you're lucky, that you will only need an operation to remove a body part and undergo an extremely uncomfortable regimen of treatment, that the bill comes due.

High profile athletes are imitated by young fans, but its unlikely that many youngsters would choose to die of self-induced cancer before their time. It's not cool to use tobacco. Don't start, but if you have, stop now. If Tony had not used tobacco, he would still be with us today.

Sig Seidenman, Owings Mills

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