Mr. Padre, Tony Gwynn. File photo
Mr. Padre, Tony Gwynn. File photo

The family of baseball Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn filed a lawsuit Monday against the tobacco industry, claiming the former Padre was targeted to use the smokeless tobacco that caused the cancer that led to his death.

The suit — which seeks unspecified damages — alleges the tobacco industry induced Gwynn to begin using smokeless tobacco in the late 1970s when he was a star at San Diego State University.

The lawsuit was filed against Altria Group Inc., formerly Philip Morris. There was no immediate response from the company.

According to the lawsuit, Gwynn used as many as two cans of smokeless tobacco per day, which is equivalent to smoking four or five packs of cigarettes daily.

In the San Diego Superior Court lawsuit, Gwynn’s family alleges that the tobacco industry chose the former Mr. Padre specifically because it was trying to market its product to black consumers, and that it intentionally misled Gwynn to use the product.

Gwynn used smokeless tobacco for 31 years, and admitted an addiction when he tried to stop using the tobacco.

Gwynn had multiple surgeries on his neck to remove an abscess and a tumor and died from salivary gland cancer in 2014 at the age of 54.

Tony Gwynn Jr. and Anisha Gwynn-Jones, Gwynn’s adult children, are scheduled to make prepared remarks about the lawsuit Tuesday afternoon in San Diego.

–City News Service