Senators Seeking MLB Ban on Chewing Tobacco
Letter to Major League Baseball Association calls for ban at games, on camera
WASHINGTON -- Back in the 1960s, before they moved to the Lone Star State, the Texas Rangers--heading this week into the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals--were known as the Washington Senators. Now four Washington senators of the political kind, along with health officials from the cities hosting the 2011 World Series, are urging the baseball players union to agree to a ban on chewing tobacco at games and on camera.
In a letter to Michael Weiner, executive director of the Major League Baseball (MLB) Players Association, U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) called for the group to ban the use of all tobacco products, including smokeless tobacco, on the field, in the dugout and in the locker rooms at MLB venues.
"Tomorrow night, an expected 15 million viewers, including many children, will tune in to watch the first game of the series. Unfortunately, as these young fans root for their favorite team and players, they also will watch their on-field heroes use smokeless tobacco products," wrote the senators.
"During the upcoming negotiations over the bargaining agreement, we write to ask that the [MLB] Players Association agree to a prohibition on the use of all tobacco products at games and on camera at all Major League ballparks. This would send a strong message to young baseball fans, who look toward the players as role models, that tobacco use is not essential to the sport of baseball."
They added, "Major League ballplayers who use smokeless tobacco at games are providing a celebrity endorsement for these products, encouraging many young people to try smokeless tobacco."
Earlier this year, Durbin and Lautenberg asked MLB commissioner Bud Selig to ban the use of tobacco products on the field, in the dugout and in the locker rooms at MLB venues. Selig has since announced that he will propose banning tobacco in the Major Leagues in the new players' contract.
Click here to read the full text of the senators' letter.
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