The Washington Post

Senators: There should be no chewing in baseball

Senate Majority Whip Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) answers questions from members of the media after a caucus with Senate Democrats in July. (Alex Wong/GETTY IMAGES)

Sens. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa.), and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) sent a letter Tuesday to the Major League Baseball Players Association, asking that the player’s group agree to ban all tobacco products—including cigarettes and, yes, chew—from all baseball venues during games.

That would include fields, stands, dugouts and even locker rooms.

“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 wrote.

Major League Baseball has already banned chewing tobacco from the minor leagues and, according to the senators, Commissioner Bud Selig has proposed a smokeless tobacco ban be included in the players new contract.

The senators asked that the players association agree to the provision, noting that youth surveys show that use the tobacco product is on the rise. Smokeless tobacco use has been linked to mouth, stomach, larynx and other cancers, as well as cardiovascular disease and other health issues.

“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,” they wrote.

Rosalind Helderman is a political enterprise and investigations reporter for the Washington Post.

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