Should MLB ban smokeless tobacco?

    Not too different from the steroid days, once again, Major League Baseball is under public pressure to make a change that will improve the health of players–and improve the game’s image.

    This time, lawmakers, parents and health officials are asking the big leagues to ban smokeless tobacco. Philadelphia’s health czar Donald Schwarz says young, impressionable fans are watching.

    “Any of us who are baseball fans have seen plenty of players who are chewing and spitting, any of us who have taken children to games know that children see that as well,” he said.

    This week Schwarz joined an appeal to baseball commissioner Bud Selig. In an open letter, health officials from 15 MLB cities said players using spit tobacco set a “terrible example.”

    Marie Cocco, spokeswoman for the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, said players shouldn’t serve as free advertising for the tobacco industry.

    “Since 2003, the use of smokeless tobacco by high school boys has gone up 36 percent. It’s soaring,” she said.

    Cocco said tobacco makers promote moist snuff as an alternative for smokers who have to curb their habit in public.

    U.S, Sen. Frank Lautenberg and Congressman Frank Pallone of New Jersey have asked Major League Baseball to ban dip. Pallone said the current push is crucial as a new season is starting–and players and management are just sitting down to labor talks.

    “We’re basically going to see if we can try to get the players association and Major League Baseball to try to ban it as part of their agreement,” Pallone said.

    MLB banned chew in the minor leagues in 1992 but needs an agreement from the union to make the same move in the majors.

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