U.S. senators ask Major League Baseball to quit tobacco
February 15, 2011 --
Citing the recent announcement by Washington Nationals pitcher Steven Strasburg about the dangers of smokeless tobacco in Major League Baseball (MLB), U.S. Sens. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) are asking MLB commissioner Bud Selig and the MLB Players Association to ban the use of tobacco products on the field, in the dugout, and in the locker rooms at MLB venues.
"It has been 28 years since the MLB ended tobacco use in its minor leagues, and it is time to extend that policy throughout MLB's venues and events. We now know conclusively that smokeless tobacco endangers the health of baseball players who use it, but it also affects millions of young people who watch baseball. The use of smokeless tobacco by baseball players undermines the positive image of the sport and sends a dangerous message to young fans, who may be influenced by the players they look up to as role models," wrote Lautenberg and Durbin in a letter to Selig dated February 15.
Tobacco-related products kill 443,000 Americans every year, and each day 1,000 American children and teenagers become new regular smokers, the senators noted.
In a January 31 article in the Washington Post, Strasburg revealed his effort to quit using smokeless tobacco and pointed to his desire to emulate professional baseball players as a reason why he began using smokeless tobacco.
In a separate letter sent to Strasburg, Lautenberg and Durbin commended the young pitcher's resolve: "Your individual decision to quit smokeless tobacco, not only for your health, but to set a positive image for the young people who look up to you and watch baseball, is laudable. We want to encourage you to stick with it. Baseball fans will notice. Your example could prevent disease and disability and save a few lives."