Padres Legend Tony Gwynn’s Family Files Lawsuit

Jun 26, 2014; San Deigo, CA, USA; A general view of Tony Gwynn
Jun 26, 2014; San Deigo, CA, USA; A general view of Tony Gwynn /

It has almost been two years since San Diego Padres legend Tony Gwynn succumbed to salivary gland cancer, often attributed to intemperate tobacco use. Now, Gwynn’s family wants those responsible held accountable.

As if working in the public relations department for a tobacco company wasn’t arduous enough, it surely just became even more difficult. With the announcement coming that the relatives of 15 time all-star, and 2007 Hall of Fame inductee, Tony Gwynn, have recently filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the tobacco industry and many of its associates, to which they believe played a role in contributing to the death of the long-time right fielder of the San Diego Padres.

While the detrimental health effects associated with prolonged use of tobacco are well-noted, Gwynn’s family, as suggested in the report, believe he may have never engaged in this self-destructive habit, if not for the notoriously persuasive tobacco companies urging him to partake, dating back to the time he was reportedly first approached by them as a young impressionable mind, while still in college at San Diego State.

Gwynn’s son, who shares the name of Tony with his now deceased father, is one of the names that appears on the lawsuit. In light of this story being made available to the public, Gwynn Jr. commented by saying,

“The tobacco companies were using his addiction to turn him into their walking billboard. He never knew it, but they were using him to promote their dip to the next generations of kids and fans who idolized him.”

Gwynn’s family aren’t the only people seeking to land a significant blow to the tobacco industry. Despite chewing tobacco being ingrained into baseballs culture about as much as a seventh inning stretch, 2016 happened to be the first year ever, that chewing tobacco was prohibited in ballparks which included Fenway and Dodgers Stadium, with more teams to follow suit as the year progresses. An estimated 25-30 percent of current major leaguers chew tobacco, the initiative being taken seeks to hopefully diminish those numbers even more, and hopefully prevent more players from ending up like Gwynn.

Being involved with a product that is an underlying cause of death to so many has made the tobacco companies well-versed in handling the many lawsuits filed against them. While it remains to be seen if the prestige associated with Tony Gwynn will play a factor in his family being compensated, thus simultaneously raising awareness, one could argue it definitely should.

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The tobacco companies didn’t see Gwynn as a baseball player, who as a perennial all-star who had a career .338/.388/.459. They saw him as a marketing tool, a billboard to advertise their harmful product to those inspiring to be like him.