May 30, 2019 3 min read
TeaZa and Operation Tobacco Free (OTF) hit a home run at the 2017 American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) Convention January 5-8 at the Anaheim Convention Center in California. With a little coaching from former MLB pitcher and OTF ambassador, David “Boomer” Wells, the TeaZa team was able to help dozens of baseball players and coaches quit dipping.
ABCA attendees made the life-changing decision to “Ditch the Dip” and cashed-in their chewing tobacco for TeaZa Tobacco-Free Pouches. By the end of the weekend, OTF volunteers had collected boxes full of Copenhagen, Skoal and other smokeless tobacco and alternative tobacco brands—including Grinds and Smokey Mountain!
“My wife’s going to be happy,” said Daniel, a father of two and husband to a dental hygienist, who cashed-in his can of Copenhagen for a Black Cherry TeaZa fliptop.
“Ah, dude, you throw a black cherry in there, she’s gonna’ kiss ya’ all day!” said Wells, who snapped photos with fans and autographed memorabilia in the TeaZa booth at the convention.
Being a 20-year veteran of the major leagues and a high school baseball coach, Wells understands how deeply ingrained smokeless tobacco use is in baseball culture.
“Operation Tobacco-Free and TeaZa Tobacco-Free Pouches have helped thousands of players and fans quit dipping,” said Wells who now serves as head coach of his alma mater’s baseball team at Point Loma High School in San Diego, California. “As a coach, I try to encourage kids to refuse to use tobacco in the first place.”
While the tobacco-free movement is gaining momentum, smokeless tobacco use remains steady.
Athletes, who’ve been seen for decades chewing and spitting during televised games, have long been considered a primary source for marketing smokeless tobacco products. But 14 out of 30 major league stadiums have recently become tobacco-free, with other MLB cities considering similar measures. Even with the rise of smokeless tobacco bans in major stadiums, 1 in 3 major league baseball players still uses smokeless tobacco and some research indicates as many as 50% of high school athletes use smokeless tobacco on the baseball field at the JV and varsity level.
The OTF initiative is focused on reaching some 8 million adult smokeless tobacco users in the US as well as an estimated 535,000 kids age 12-17 who try smokeless tobacco for the first time each year. Launched in 2015, OTF donated thousands of dollars in product and sponsorships of youth athletic and health programs in its first year.
TeaZa was among more than 300 companies that displayed products, innovations and state-of-the-art equipment at the ABCA Convention. Team OTF handed out samples of TeaZa Tobacco-Free Pouches, collected OTF team sponsorship applications and raised awareness of the “Ditch the Dip” campaign—a nation-wide “dip drive” which allows people to cash-in their unused, unopened cans of smokeless tobacco in exchange for free TeaZa—a tobacco-free, nicotine-free, smokeless tobacco alternative.
The 73rd annual ABCA Convention was attended by more than 4,500 coaches—the largest convention ever to happen on the West Coast.
Event highlights included several meetings, awards presentations, panel discussions and clinic speakers from coaches from college and high school at all levels, including Tim Corbin (Vanderbilt), Paul Mainieri (LSU) and John Savage (UCLA).
Awards were presented to the 2017 ABCA/Hall of Fame class including Tom Austin, Methodist University (N.C.), Scott Berry, Mayville State University (N.D.), Jerry Boatner, West Lauderdale High School (Miss.), Barry Chasen, Windsor High School (Conn.), Leroy Dreyer, Blinn College (Texas), Rick Jones, Tulane University (La.), Wally Kincaid, Cerritos College (Calif.), Bill Percy, St. Mary’s High School (Colo.), Steve Peterson, Middle Tennessee State University and Norm Schoenig, Montclair State University (N.J.).
Other award-winners included former Major League pitcher Jim Abbott, who received the ABCA Honor Award; Rob Walton from Oklahoma State, who received the ABCA/Baseball America Assistant Coach of the Year Award; and Mary Ellen Leicht of the NJCAA, who received the Meritorious Service Award.
If you’re ready to quit chewing tobacco, check out our resources to quit chewing tobacco!
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