A new labor deal between Major League Baseball (MLB) and the players union limits the use of smokeless tobacco by players, but does not ban it during games. Some public health groups and legislators had sought a total ban on smokeless tobacco by players during baseball games.
Under the agreement, players will not carry tobacco packages and tins in their back pockets while fans are in the ballpark. They will not use tobacco during pregame or postgame interviews and at team functions, NBC Sports reports.
Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, one of the groups that has advocated for a smokeless tobacco ban in MLB, said in a statement that the new contract represents “a historic first step to protect the health of big-league players and millions of young fans who look up to them.” Myers said that while his group continues to support a complete ban on tobacco use at games and on camera, “this agreement marks the first time that the league and the players have recognized it is time to break this unhealthy addiction. We urge individual players to go further than the agreement, and completely eliminate their use of smokeless tobacco at games.”
New Jersey Senator Frank Pallone, who had co-authored a letter to MLB and the players union asking them to ban smokeless tobacco, said in a statement, “I’m disappointed in this agreement because it doesn’t go far enough to ban smokeless tobacco entirely from baseball. The fact is that smokeless tobacco use by baseball players will still appear on television screens across the United States.”