Blumenthal Announces Historic Steps In Fight Against Big Tobacco, Calls For More To Be Done

(Hartford, CT) – On Major League Baseball’s opening day, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) announced details of an historic rule restricting the use of smokeless tobacco by players, managers, and coaches on and off the field. He also called for more funding of new anti-tobacco ads, which began showing on March 19th as part of a national media campaign, which have doubled the numbers of people seeking help to quit smoking. He also urged parents to make sure their children see the ads.

“This opening day is truly historic because children will no longer see their heroes – baseball’s stars, managers or coaches – with chewing tobacco products on or off the field,” Blumenthal said. “Major League Baseball heeded our request to do the right thing and voluntarily stepped up to the plate, leading by example and assuring that fewer kids will succumb to lifetimes of addiction and disease. The fight against tobacco use also is advanced by the powerful ads shown by the CDC – which have doubled the numbers of people seeking to quit – showing that these ads really work effectively to prevent and stop smoking. I am calling on budget officials to increase funding amounts so these ads will be continued and expanded and I urge parents to make sure their children see them.”

In an April 2, 2012 letter, Blumenthal called on the Senate Appropriations Committee to increase the federal investment in tobacco prevention and cessation programs like the one recently launched by the CDC. Last month, following a Surgeon General report indicating that mass media can be effective in preventing smoking, the CDC launched the first-ever paid nationwide media campaign, funded by the Affordable Care Act, to prevent youth smoking and provide resources to quit smoking.

Rates of chewing tobacco use among high school boys have increased to 15% which is one third higher than just five years ago. According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, tobacco companies spend $10.5 billion a year — more than one million dollars an hour — to market tobacco products, including smokeless tobacco, in the United States.