With the legal action, Gwynn becomes one of the most
high-profile Major League Baseball stars to have his name used
in a public attack on the tobacco industry. His family said
Tuesday that Gwynn used "dip," which is tobacco placed between
the lip and the gum, because he thought it would be more
healthful than smoking.
"Throughout his career, our dad was proud of his work helping
kids and being a positive role model to his fans," his daughter
Anisha Gwynn-Jones said in a statement Tuesday. "But the whole
time, the tobacco companies were using his addiction to turn him
into their ultimate walking billboard."
The lawsuit filed on Monday in San Diego Superior Court alleges
negligence, product liability and fraud. It comes two years
after the player, often photographed with a wad of tobacco in
his right cheek, died at age 54.
Over the decades, many baseball players have used smokeless
tobacco on the field.
Gwynn became addicted to smokeless tobacco beginning at age 17
as a freshman baseball player at San Diego State University,
where he was given free samples in a marketing scheme that used
contract employees to reach out to athletes, the lawsuit stated.
Gwynn used dipping tobacco for over 30 years, often going to
sleep with a wad in his mouth and even reaching for his pack of
Skoal after a surgery in 1991 to remove a benign tumor,
according to the lawsuit filed by his widow, Alicia, and the
couple's two adult children.
In 2010, Gwynn was diagnosed with cancer of his parotid salivary
gland and died four years later of respiratory failure caused by
the disease, the lawsuit stated.
The civil lawsuit filed against Altria Group, one of the world's
largest tobacco companies, and its subsidiary Smokeless Tobacco
Company, which produces the brand Skoal, seeks damages in an
amount to be determined based on evidence.
A spokesman for Altria Group declined to comment.
The lawsuit says that when Gwynn became hooked on smokeless
tobacco in the late 1970s, the cans bore no warning labels and
were promoted as safer than cigarettes, even though the industry
knew their products caused addiction and cancer.
(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Sharon Bernstein,
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