Chicago Sun-Times
A hearty stew of offbeat sports and pop culture.

Could Major League Baseball ban chewing tobacco?

| 3 Comments | No TrackBacks
alg_dykstra.jpgThere's a movement afoot to eliminate one of baseball's longest-running traditions -- one that's on display in every single Major League game.

That's right, we're talking about chewing tobacco and dip.

Let the intelligent discourse begin.

At a hearing Wednesday, House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Henry Waxman, a California Democrat, and Health Subcommittee chairman Frank Pallone, a New Jersey Democrat, called on baseball and its players to agree to bar major leaguers from using chew, dip or similar products during games.

MLB executive VP Robert Manfred and MLB Players Association chief labor counsel David Prouty told lawmakers they agree that smokeless tobacco is harmful -- Manfred said a ban in the majors is "a laudable goal" -- but both pointed out that any ban would have to be agreed to through collective bargaining.

So is there a chance that puffy-cheeked players will soon become a thing of the past? The idea isn't without precedent. Currently, smoking cigarettes in uniform while in public view is prohibited. Smokeless tobacco has been outlawed in the minors since 1993.
The contingent that wants it banned is, of course, taking the moral high ground and the belief that baseball players are role models.

Anna Eshoo, a California Democrat, wondered aloud: "Why don't they just chew gum if they feel the need to chew something?"

During his opening statement, Waxman said: "We don't let baseball players go stand out there in the field and drink beer. Major League Baseball won't allow them to step on the field and smoke cigarettes. So why should they be out there on the field -- in sight of all their fans on television and at the ballpark -- using smokeless tobacco?"

While Waxman's comments are definitely a jumping-off point for discussion, Eshoo's question is sort of laughable. Comparing chew to gum is like comparing apples to oranges. For those of you smart enough to never try it, let me explain.

The reason players uses these things is that because it provides a buzz, much like smoking a cigarette. With repeated use, the severity of the buzz diminishes. Granted, it's probably just a habit at this point for many players, but gum is not going to provide the same mental and physical stimulation.

On the other hand, there is no denying the health concerns.

"Why can't baseball and the players association right here get together and ban it? Take it off the field," former major leaguer Joe Garagiola said. "Tobacco is tobacco is tobacco. ... Get it out of our game."

Terry Pechacek of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Deborah Winn of the National Cancer Institute testified about the links between smokeless tobacco and cancer, and the addictiveness of smokeless tobacco. Pechacek said smokeless tobacco can cause oral cancer, pancreatic cancer and has been linked to fatal heart attacks.

Harvard professor Gregory Connolly said research shows about one-third of major leaguers report they use smokeless tobacco, and he says that contributes to use by youth in America.

Maybe I'm in the minority and not socially responsible enough, but I have no problem with tobacco use during the game. However misguided, it just feels like part of the game. Plus, I'm not sure how it's affecting me. Of course, I don't have any kids to worry about picking up nasty habits.

What do you think?

No TrackBacks

TrackBack URL:


I'll be honest. If the MLB banned chewing tobacco I would support it's death.

The entire world seems to have went from tolerant to intolerance. The world makes and ideal for who you should be (non-tobacco user) and what you should do.

Now, I understand that kids look up to athletes but it is the parents job to be the real firm impression. I mean, seriously if a child lives with a father that smokes cigarettes worrying about chewing tobacco is the least of the worries. Come on, how many kids smoked their first cigarette because they stole it from their father's pack; in addiction they did not do it alone, that one kid shared that stolen cigarette with at least two friends.

If children see an athlete drinking a beer to celebrate a victory you don't suddenly freak out. Now why don't you? Alcohol was given a higher age limit to buy and consume?

Come on people. Stop the pattern of fascism. Stop the pattern of making an ideal for who we should be 'for our own good'.

Even though I don't go around with a 'puffed out cheek', I don't want to see tobacco use disappear from the world in the next decade or so.

I support knowledge and freedom. It is bad for you, but so is coffee. If you take tobacco out of the picture we need to rally fast and hard to remove people's right to drink coffee for their 'own good' (there has to be a price to pay for intolerance and only caring for issues that involve you).

So, if the MLB ever banned tobacco I would personally try to get every friend I have to never watch or attend another game again and 'ride' any other guys I know if they ever so much as wore a baseball cap.

I think this ridiculous. Dont change America's pastime.
This is a liberal law that will limit freedom. If this were to get banned, there would be a terrible player's strike.

I'm actually upset that it is banned in high school baseball.

The minors banned chewing or dipping tobacco a few years ago. Fines result when minor league players get caught. Why the majors haven't done it is amazing to me. They are the ones who truly get the limelight.

I heard about Stop Chew from a friend in San Diego and got it. I haven't dipped in 6 months and don't have the urge. Yes, when I smell fresh-cut grass I feel like I'm back on a ball field. That is the worst! But, it doesn't affect me any more. I gave Stop Chew to friends for Christmas. All of us have been dipping for 25 years. It works!

Ban Chewing tobacco so our children don't grow up around it. Here in Canada, I picked it up around rodeos. Everybody was chewing and I thought it was cool. Thanks for this article, Koster. I bet you are a MLB fan too!
James Larson

Leave a comment

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Kyle Koster published on April 15, 2010 7:31 AM.

Ben Roethlisberger dumped as beef jerky spokesperson was the previous entry in this blog.

Alleged Tiger Woods mistress Jaimee Grubbs arrested is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.


Powered by Movable Type 5.04