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Rivalry Aside, Marlins and Rays Team Up To Fight Tobacco

Players Hit Home "I Care" Message to Fans

TALLAHASSEE, Fla., June 19 /PRNewswire/ -- They are rivals on the baseball field, but together the top-ranked Florida Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays are leading a campaign to educate Floridians about the dangers of tobacco. Tobacco Free Florida, an initiative of the Florida Department of Health, has teamed up with FSN Florida/Sun Sports to reach Floridians with its messages of smoking and smokeless tobacco prevention and cessation. Both Major League teams are seeing phenomenal success on the field and will be matched against each other in an Interleague series from June 24-26 at Dolphin Stadium.

With the start of the 2008 Major League Baseball season, eight players from both teams delivered the "I care. I don't chew. I don't dip. I don't smoke." message on video, and the finished product is showcased both in- stadium and on statewide television. By having hometown sports heroes voluntarily speak out publicly against smoking, chewing and dipping, and by showcasing those testimonials during live game action, fans hear loud and clear that the players care about this issue. The players featured on the "I Care" player IDs from the Marlins include Luis Gonzalez, Kevin Gregg, Matt Lindstrom, and Ricky Nolasco, Rays Manager Joe Maddon and players Jonny Gomes, Jason Hammel, and Carlos Pena. The videos can be viewed at

One personal story has reinforced this natural partnership. After using smokeless tobacco over 25 years, Joe Maddon, manager of the Tampa Bay Rays, quit cold turkey. It all began 10 years ago when his neck and back began to bother him. Using a wad of paper towels, which he inserted into dip and chew pockets for several weeks, he was able to overcome his addiction. Maddon laughed when asked if he missed it. "I don't miss it. Actually, if I tried to chew or dip right now I'd get sick within five minutes."

Tobacco Free Florida and FSN Florida/Sun Sports are committed to working in unison to deliver a statewide campaign that makes an impact by helping all Floridians live longer, healthier lives. And it's making an impact. Increases in the call volume of the state's Quitline have been attributed to the baseball campaign being shown on live statewide telecasts.

SOURCE Tobacco Free Florida
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