One day after filing a lawsuit that blames smokeless tobacco for causing Tony Gwynn’s death from cancer in 2014, the Padres star’s adult children said Tuesday that they wanted the industry to be held accountable.
In an appearance at the Bankers Hill offices of their lawyer, Anisha Gwynn-Jones and Tony Gwynn Jr. issued brief statements about the suit filed Monday in San Diego Superior Court against the Altria Group, one of the largest tobacco companies in the world.
An Altria spokesman did not respond to a request for an interview.
The product liability lawsuit claims the company’s smokeless tobacco products, or “dip,” caused the cancer that killed Gwynn, one of baseball’s greatest hitters. The suit says he started using dip and got addicted while a college athlete at San Diego State in 1977, before the product carried warning labels but years after the producers allegedly knew it was carcinogenic.
“Our dad was an elite athlete who didn’t drink or smoke because he cared about his health and performance,” Tony Gwynn Jr. said. “If he had known how addictive and harmful to his health dip was, he would not have started using it in college, become addicted, and died so young.”
The lawsuit says that for 31 years Gwynn consumed 11/2 to two tins of smokeless tobacco a day, which it says was the equivalent of four to five packs of cigarettes. The suit says internal industry documents show a calculated marketing effort to appeal to youths and African American males, despite knowledge of the dangers of the product.
“He wouldn’t want to see another player, or any other person, have to get sick and die because of what these tobacco companies did,” Gwynn-Jones said. “And in order to make that happen, these companies have to be held accountable.”
The siblings did not take questions from the media.
Moran is a staff writer for the San Diego Union Tribune.