Rep Frank Pallone (D-6th.) said Tuesday he is disappointed that the new health and safety issues addressed in Major League Baseball’s new collective bargaining agreement do not ban smokeless (chewing) tobacco. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Cal.) is to view the text of the letter.
“I’m disappointed in this agreement because it doesn’t go far enough to ban smokeless tobacco entirely from baseball,” Pallone said. “The fact is that smokeless tobacco use by baseball players will still appear on television screens across the United States.
“By agreeing to begin Human Growth Hormone (steroid) testing and requiring players to participate in public outreach regarding tobacco use, this agreement makes some steps forward,” Pallone added. “However, I’m still concerned about the mixed messages millions of young fans will see watching their favorite baseball player saying one thing in a public service announcement and doing another on the field. I challenge teams and coaches to go beyond this agreement and institute team-by-team rules that will raise the bar towards eliminating smokeless tobacco entirely from baseball.”
On Nov. 2, Pallone and Waxman sent a letter to Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig and Major League Baseball Players Association Director Michael Weiner urging them to include in the new contract both testing for HGH and a ban on smokeless tobacco by players in the dugout and on the field.
“We also hope you will address the use of smokeless tobacco by major league players,” Pallone and Waxman wrote. “At an April 12, 2010, hearing before the Health Subcommittee of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, we heard about the ongoing use of this drug by major league players and the impact this use has on children and young adults who watch the games and admire the players."
Dr. Gregory Connelly of the Harvard School of Public Health informed the Committee that “There can be no doubt that public use by MLB players directly contributes to youth smokeless tobacco use in the United States.”