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When I was younger, I thought the hits and home runs, the spit and bulging lip, the strikeouts and glove saves, and the “”can in the back pocket”” were all just part of the game.
Like most kids, I didn’t see the ugly, other side of the chew – the cancers, mouth diseases and heart attacks caused by smokeless tobacco — or the suffering of baseball greats like Babe Ruth and Tony Gwynn who battled cancer.
Our young boys (and girls) should not have to see their favorite players using tobacco.
Thanks to researchers, advocates, policy makers, and others who have fought for public health policies such as banning smoking from most workplaces — tobacco use has been somewhat denormalized over the years — and smoking rates have dropped nationally.
But the Players Association and Major League Baseball continue to sport their tacit approval of tobacco on national television.
Smokeless tobacco use among high school boys has increased by 36 percent since 2003 and 15 percent currently use it, according to Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
Ten major public health and medical groups — including Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics — are calling on Major League Baseball and the Players Association to ban tobacco on the field and in the dugout during the current contract negotiations. The minor leagues, the National Hockey League, and the NCAA have already banned tobacco. The major league owner/player contract will last for five seasons — so the time to act is now.
Will you join the over 3,100 people like you who’ve already participated and tell the players’ union and Major League Baseball to ban tobacco now?
Perhaps you love baseball like I do.
Perhaps you have kids or grandkids or other young ones that you want to see grow up tobacco-free.
Perhaps you are just tired of seeing players spit.
Whatever the reasons: it’s our turn at the plate.
“”Together, we can Knock Tobacco Out of the Park“” for good.
Send a letter to Major League Baseball
Health harms from smokeless tobacco use (PDF)
Rachel Hassinger is News Editor and Online Communications Manager for Join Together.
(Kudos to Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids for the “”can in the back pocket”” phrase, the background research on smokeless tobacco use and harms, and organizing the campaign.)