On May 2016, the family of baseball star, Tony Gwynn filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the tobacco industry (including the tobacco giant, Altria Group Inc., formerly known as Phillip Morris). Gwynn died of salivary gland cancer in 2014 and the lawsuit claims that the reason for his ill health was consumption of smokeless tobacco, allegedly introduced to him in freshman year at San Diego State, by a tobacco products manufacturer. Gwynn’s family claimed that tobacco companies gave him free samples of tobacco and used his habit of “dipping” or consuming tobacco as a marketing stunt to sell their product to fans of the San Diego Padres star, while being fully aware the health risks involved. Before his death, Gwynn also went on record to say that chewing tobacco caused his illnesses.
The Gwynn lawsuit points towards the use of baseball related promotional items such as sports gear and equipment, by tobacco companies, to market their products and to create a relationship between baseball and dipping in the minds of fans that idolized baseball players. Also, tobacco companies hired students to promote smokeless tobacco through free samples and sponsored teams. Even today, dipping tobacco continues to be part of high school athletics, with athletes using almost twice more smokeless tobacco than non-athletes. According to a 2015 report by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, between 2001 and 2013 smokeless tobacco use increased by 11 percent among high school athletes, with 17% male athletes found to be addicted to dipping in 2013.
Unfortunately, even today smokeless tobacco is advertised in leading sports magazines alongside the message that dipping makes you a real man and that dipping is “better” than smoking. Even though states like California and cities like Chicago and New York have prohibited the use of smokeless tobacco in all major league stadiums, the fact that the product is marketed to the youth next to a national sport is quite worrying. Statistics for Texas show that smokeless tobacco use in male youth (13.8%) in 2013 was way above the national use in youth (8.8%). This points towards an unhealthy trend amongst youngsters of this age group.
Despite having signed the Smokeless Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (STMSA), the largest smokeless tobacco company in the US has recently increased its expenditure on advertisements in magazines with a significant youth readership. The STMSA and FDA clearly prohibit marketing tobacco products to the youth however tobacco giants continue to sponsor events, advertise in magazines and offer price discounts to make smokeless tobacco more affordable to younger consumers.
If your health or a loved one’s health has been adversely affected by smokeless tobacco you might be eligible for compensation for the suffering that dipping has caused. Wrongful death claims can be filed if the death was caused by a disease or condition directly linked with consuming tobacco products; like mouth or salivary gland cancer. With the help of a wrongful death attorney from Rad Law Firm, you will have a better chance of receiving monetary compensation to cover damages from expenses associated with the death, lost benefits, and pain, suffering, or mental anguish suffered by survivors of the deceased. Our wrongful death attorneys in Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin and Brownsville have knowledge of laws governing tobacco sale and marketing in Texas. They can review your case and give you the best legal and moral support in difficult times. Contact us today to set up a free consultation.