(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Tom Harkin (D-IA), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) commended Major League Baseball (MLB) and the MLB Player’s Association for taking action against smokeless tobacco use both on and off the field.
Under a new collective bargaining agreement announced today, players, managers, and coaches will be prohibited from using smokeless tobacco during televised interviews and Club appearances and, when fans are permitted in the ballpark, they must conceal tobacco products and may not carry tobacco products in their uniforms or on their bodies at any time.
Durbin, Lautenberg, Harkin and Blumenthal released the following statement:
“Major League Baseball made the right decision today in choosing to implement stricter rules for smokeless tobacco on the field and off the field. This is a welcome acknowledgement by players and owners that tobacco use of any kind is no longer a tradition that should be upheld.
“Smokeless tobacco use can lead to a powerful addiction that is not easy to kick. Players who choose to go one step further and give up the habit altogether should be commended for their effort. Their decision would set a positive example for the young people who look up to them. It could easily prevent disease and disability and even save a few lives.
“We hope these new rules will eventually lead to a complete ban on smokeless tobacco – a move that could prevent a new generation of fans from emulating their heroes by picking up this dangerously addictive habit.”
A day before 15 million viewers—including many children—tuned in to watch the first game of the 2011 World Series, Durbin, Lautenberg, Harkin, and Blumenthal called on the MLB Players Association to ban the use of all tobacco products, including smokeless tobacco, on the field, in the dugout, and in the locker rooms at MLB venues. They cited statistics showing a 36 percent rise since 2003 in the use of smokeless tobacco products among high school boys – many of whom look toward baseball players as role models – as a reason for the ban.
Before the beginning of the 2011 season, Durbin and Lautenberg asked MLB Commissioner Bud Selig to ban the use of tobacco products on the field, in the dugout, and in the locker rooms at MLB venues. Selig announced soon after that he would propose banning tobacco in the Major Leagues in the new players’ contract.