Getting Tough on Snuff
Myers, Hortense, The Saturday Evening Post
"A lot of parents are not anymore well-informed than I was."
Betty Ann Marsee's voice was low and even while discussing a subject that has become dominant in her life. She is familiar with death in many forms. A registered nurse at the Valley View Hospital in Ada, Oklahoma, she knows about death personally as well as professionally. Her husband, Condly Marsee, died in 1982--but it was the death of her 19-year-old son, Marvin Sean, February 25, 1984, that led Mrs. Marsee to undertake a crusade which has already gained international notice.
Sean was a bright, handsome teenager, a track star named the outstanding athlete of his high school in Talihina, Oklahoma, in 1983. By the time he died, he had become a grotesque figure who scarcely appeared human. Cancer had destroyed his tongue, his throat and his jaw.
Dr. Carl Hook, who tried vainly to save Sean's life, attributed the cancer to the young man's use of snuff. This form of tobacco, used orally or by inhalation, has been around since the 17th century. Commonly used in the 18th century, snuff (and later chewing or plug tobacco) was the dominant form of tobacco in use in the United States until the 1860s, when pipe tobacco became more popular, only to be surpassed eventually by cigars and then cigarettes. By 1938, cigarettes accounted for half of U.S. tobacco consumption and continued to outstrip other forms of tobacco use.
But in rural America, snuff dipping and tobacco chewing continued, in part because of the danger of fire from cigarettes. And advertising by the tobacco industry has put a new emphasis on so-called "smokeless tobacco" since the federal government began requiring health warnings on cigarettes. Such requirements are not in effect for smokeless tobacco. The moist type of snuff Sean began …
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Publication information: Article title: Getting Tough on Snuff. Contributors: Myers, Hortense - Author. Magazine title: The Saturday Evening Post. Volume: 257. Publication date: September 1985. Page number: 62+. © Benjamin Franklin Literary and Medical Society Jan/Feb 2007. COPYRIGHT 1985 Gale Group.
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