Lawmakers urge MLB to ban smokeless tobacco - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

4/20/10

Lawmakers urge MLB to ban smokeless tobacco

WOLFFORTH, TX (KCBD) -

By Ben Lawson  - bio | email

WOLFFORTH, TX (KCBD) - Some lawmakers say it's time for a ban on smokeless tobacco in Major League Baseball. One of the arguments is the effect use of those products can have on younger fans.

Last week, lawmakers in Congress called for MLB to voluntarily stop using chew, dip, and similar products during games.  During a hearing in Washington, a committee chairman pointed out that smokeless tobacco is already banned in the minor leagues. That happened in 1993.

MLB and its players union says while they are willing to discuss a ban, they can't do it until the next round of collective bargaining. The current labor contract doesn't expire until 2011.

A Harvard professor says research shows about one-third of major league players use smokeless tobacco. He says that contributes to young fans using it.

Kathy Balko, a nurse with Frenship ISD agrees, saying that players can be a child's role model. That's why the district puts on programs to talk about the effects of smokeless tobacco. "A lot of kids think it's healthier, because it's not smoking, and so we try, especially in high school levels, we try to educate kids that it can be as dangerous as smoking," Balko said. 

Coming up, the district is going to host an anti-tobacco program focused on fourth and fifth graders. That will be done during their P. E. classes in May.

Balko says just banning the products may not have an impact if players don't discuss why they stopped using smokeless tobacco.  "Just the fact they they're not doing it, I don't think it's going to have much of an impact. If they talk about not doing it, I think that's going to have more of an impact."

Meanwhile, the players association says they do discourage use of smokeless tobacco, but they feel players should be allowed to use substances that are legal and available to the general public.

Copyright 2010 KCBD. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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