"We have an oral cancer epidemic on our hands," Garagiola recalled telling Little League leader Creighton Hale, "It's hidden. It's silent. Nobody's doing anything because smoking is getting all the publicity. Secondhand smoke and stop smoking here and no smoking on planes. And the tobacco companies are laughing. They're going to make their money by exporting their cigarettes, and what they will do is target the young people. You see it, the rodeos, the good-old-boys circuit with the Skoal-branded car, the country-western concerts and the rock concerts. And they give these free samples on college breaks. You can see they're targeting the young people with this stuff."
Ballplayers lagged behind in making the switch. Besides the utility of a little extra spit, many players were suspicious of smoking. Several trainers blamed fatigue and hitting slumps on cigarettes. The sudden decline of former batting champion and career .308 hitter Michael "King" Kelly —he hit just .189 in 1892 and was only able to play 78 games—was attributed to his longtime habit of smoking while patrolling the outfield. The rate of smokeless tobacco use among ballplayers did start to decline in the early 20th century, but change was slow. There was even a resurgence of the practice starting in the late-1960s, after the federal government began touting the dangers of cigarettes . Smokeless-tobacco makers jumped on the opportunity by placing free tins of dip—a more refined product that doesn't require chewing—in major league clubhouses. A 1999 study found that 31 percent of the league's rookies used smokeless tobacco, compared with percent of American males.