Senators renew call for banning chewing tobacco in baseball

Four senators are using the attention being given to the World Series by issuing a statement this week renewing the call for Major League Baseball to ban chew on the field and in the dugouts.

Sens. Dick Durbin, Frank Lautenberg, Richard Blumenthal and Tom Harkin, who is the Senate Health Committee chairman, all signed the letter to Major League Baseball. The letter states in part:

“When players use smokeless tobacco, they endanger not only their own health, but also the health of millions of children who follow their example.”

The senators cited the 2009 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which showed a 36% increase in use of smokeless tobacco products among boys in high school since 2003. The survey also showed that 15% of high school boys now use the products.

This is not the first time Congress has gotten involved in trying to get tobacco out of baseball. (And if you think this is weird, it is already banned at the Minor League level for 18 years now and most colleges do not allow their players to chew on the field.) The push has been ongoing for about a year now. And I even found out it is against the rules to smoke on the field. (Many years ago, Orioles manager Earl Weaver used to chain smoke during games. I wonder if Detroit manager Jim Leyland sneaks cigarette breaks in the clubhouse during games? He is a chain smoker.)

Baseball has been pretty stubborn about this and has yet to respond, saying it is a collective bargaining issue.

Really, it’s time. I know this sounds like the “pussyfication of America,” but the fact is, chewing is a big problem with more kids taking it up than in the past, and one of the reasons they do take it up really is because they see their heroes on the field chewing.


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