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In 2011, Major League Baseball for the first time set some rules about smokeless tobacco use by players. They could no longer carry around tins or packages of "chew" when fans were in the ballpark, and they couldn't use the products during interviews before or after games.
But the powerful MLB Players Association prevented any further restrictions, and even though fewer players chew tobacco than in years past, they can and do stuff tobacco between their cheeks and gums, or behind their lower lips, whenever they want.
The death of Tony Gwynn, a San Diego Padre for 20 years and one of the game's great hitters, might prompt both baseball and the players' union to get together on a total ban the next time the two sides meet to work out a new collective bargaining agreement, in 2016. Gwynn died Monday at 54, after a long battle with cancer in his salivary gland. Gwynn had maintained that chewing tobacco throughout his career and afterward caused the cancer. Gwynn twice had surgery in his right cheek, where he kept his chew. The last time came in 2012.
"Obviously, players are grown men capable of making their own decision for their health, but MLB as a whole needs to take a stand," Dr. Jack Jacoub, director of thoracic oncology at MemorialCare Cancer Institute at Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center in Fountain Valley, said by e-mail.
"MLB is aware that kids look up to their players and try to emulate them," Jacoub added. "Moreover, no other major sport is associated so closely with a cancer-causing activity as baseball is with chew. Frankly, it is a terrible and unhealthy habit that the MLB must directly deal with. Breaking the link between baseball and chew is important."
The Angels said that a ban on minor leaguers chewing has made the habit less prevalent among major leaguers. Team medical and training staff discourage it among the players, and before the season, speakers discuss the potential dangers.
"But at the end of the day, these guys are major league ballplayers, and they're gonna do what they're gonna do," said Eric Kay, director of communications.
Tim Mead, the team's vice president of communications, added: "There's awareness about it ... but unfortunately things like (Gwynn's death) are reminders for everybody."
PEER PRESSURE AND SMOKING
Adolescents can use peer pressure to get friends to quit smoking, but this influence is not as strong as the pressure used to get someone to start smoking, according to a study at Penn State and Arizona State universities.
The research, published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, indicates that it's easy to persuade a young person to smoke. What's rarer is for nonsmoking friends to have the knowledge and tools needed to help a friend kick the habit.
"In order to become a smoker, kids need to know how to smoke, they need to know where to buy cigarettes and how to smoke without being caught, which are all things they can learn from their friends who smoke," said Steven Haas at Penn State. "But friends are unlikely to be able to provide the type resources needed to help them quit smoking." Kids also are less likely to have access to nicotine-replacement products or smoking-cessation programs, the authors said.
Caffeine affects boys and girls about the same before they enter puberty. But after, the drug affects the sexes differently, according to a study at the University of Buffalo in New York. Too much caffeine, from coffee, energy drinks or other products, can increase blood pressure and lower heart rate in adults as well as younger people. Boys' hearts are more affected by caffeine after puberty, and researchers say hormones could explain the differences. The study was published in the journal Pediatrics.
Gay men who used smartphone apps to find sexual partners were more likely contract a sexually transmitted disease than those who met online or in bars, according to research conducted by the LA Gay and Lesbian Center. The report, published in the British Medical Journal, queried more than 7,000 men who were tested for STDs. It found that 36 percent used apps, like Grindr (which has 6 million users in 192 countries), and other methods, to meet sexual partners, while 34 percent met them in person only. Smartphone apps tended to be favored by younger, well-educated men.