Smokeless Tobacco Comes Under Fire In Baseball

Earlier this month, Congress House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Henry Waxman stated that MLB should stop players from using chew, dip or other smokeless tobacco products during games.

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"Millions of young fans are exposed on a daily basis to the use of smokeless tobacco by their heroes. This is a serious health risk. The increased use of smokeless tobacco will mean millions more teens getting hooked on nicotine."

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MLB said it was an issue for the Collective Bargaining Agreement with the union, but that it's something they'd bring up - the current agreement expires next season. However, it seems the union are unwilling to accept a restriction on a product that remains generally legal, even if it has been banned in the minors since 1993. There, players and managers are subject to a $300 fine - no small amount for a prospect - if caught using it any minor league facility.

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Still, it's a call that will have been welcomed by veteran Joe Garagiola Sr, who has been campaigning against its use for years, touring clubhouses and speaking to players about the potential dangers. All the way back in 1997, he said, "There's an oral-cancer epidemic out there... People need to know smokeless does not mean harmless." But Giants reliever Jeremy Affeldt - a non-user - countered:

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"If it's legal in the United States of America, you can't say someone can't do it. It's a free country. You start going down those roads, taking away freedoms this country is based on. ... I think we are seeing signs of more and more of that happening and we need to back off."

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If past history is anything to go by, what Congress wants from baseball, Congress is probably going to get from baseball. And personally, if I never see another ballplayer chewing or spitting, that would be quite fine by me.

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