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After Gwynn’s death, Sale quit smokeless tobacco

Chris Sale, chewing tobacco in 2012, gave up the habit after Tony Gwynn died at 54 in 2014. | Harry How/Getty Images

SAN DIEGO — Chris Sale went out of his way at the All-Star news conference this week to pay tribute to Tony Gwynn, the Hall of Famer who played 20 seasons in the majors — for the Padres —through 2003.

Sale said he gave up smokeless tobacco when Gwynn died of salivary-gland cancer on June 16, 2014, at 54.

“He actually made a very big impact in my life,’’ Sale said. ‘‘I chewed tobacco from 2007 until the day he passed away. I remember seeing that and just being so shocked. He was a larger-than-life person. He was an inspiration in the game for many, many people for a lot of different reasons. But I quit that day, and I haven’t touched it since.

“In a sense, I owe him a huge thank you for not only myself but for my family, and, you know, hopefully I can maybe sway somebody in the right direction, as well, like he did for me.”

Gwynn talked openly about the effects tobacco had on his health, attributing the cancer to his addiction, although when he died, Gwynn’s doctors wouldn’t say definitively that chewing tobacco was to blame.

Gwynn’s family filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against tobacco companies in May.