Ban On Smokeless Tobacco More Trouble Than Good

The first time I packed a lip, I was playing left field for my high school’s JV baseball team. Quite frankly, I did it because everyone else was doing it. We got a quick energy boost and dazed light-headedness which eventually turned into our second baseman yacking in the dugout. But it was awesome, we felt like we were the pros.

Nearly half of Major League Baseball’s population uses smokeless tobacco when playing the game. Although not directly related to the significant increase in the use of dip among teens, that number is clearly influential in the considerable rise. High school ballplayers idolize their favorite players and are willing to do anything to be more like them, especially dip. After Little Leaguers spend years chomping away on Big League Chew, a type of bubble gum used to imitate chewing tobacco, the switch to dip in high school comes naturally.

Bud Selig needed some convincing, but he publically said he would support a ban that would make the MLB tobacco free. He received letters from public health officials of 14 cities, but wasn’t sold until letters from Sen. Frank Lautenberg (NJ) and Sen. Dick Durbin (Ill.) expressed a concern in the noticeable increase of teens buying and consuming chewing tobacco. Besides burning a fire under baseball’s commissioner, Lautenberg also turned the heat up on the Players’ Union.

Greg Bouris, a spokesman for the Union, responded to the Senator’s attack telling the Newark Star Ledger, “It remains a legal substance that is widely available and it remains subject to collective bargaining.”Bouris is right, dip is as legal as a pack of Mentos and if Selig wants to change that he will have to wait until the Collective Bargaining Agreement is up on December 11th.

A ban on smokeless tobacco is going to be more trouble than it’s worth. Tobacco has been around the game since the beginning, unlike steroids and cocaine which exploded onto the scene in sports. Let’s not forget what it took for baseball to complete its ban on steroids and cocaine: To rid the game of steroids, Major League Baseball gave out 27 MLB suspensions and a handful of players appeared in court rooms. Cocaine was an even bigger disaster. Baseball’s acting commissioner, Fay Vincent, gave relief pitcher, Steve Howe a lifetime ban for using coke. The ban was rescinded by an arbitrator and baseball’s commissioner was undermined until the strike in 1994.

Cocaine and steroids weren’t something that half of baseball did; half of the game uses chewing tobacco. I don’t see a deal being worked out come December that will result in a ban of snuff. If a ban is implemented there will be repercussions by half of the game’s population, who are addicted to the stuff.

From Cole Hamels’ Redman visibly tucked into his back pocket to cameras zooming in on Raul Ibanez’s over-stuffed cheeks, tobacco is part of baseball. It always has been. Just recently we have started to see MLB officials begin to take action. During the ‘90s, baseball made its biggest push against tobacco when disallowing cigarette ads in stadiums. The MLB struck again in 1993 when they banned smokeless tobacco from the minor leagues. The sport whose most famous card was made by a tobacco company has come a long way, but the Union agreeing to ban dip in the pros seems highly unlikely.

19 thoughts on “Ban On Smokeless Tobacco More Trouble Than Good

  1. Mr Greco – I don’t think anyone can argue against the fact that there’s a ton of beuracracy in the way of executing the ban, and it will be a difficult, complicated process to do so. But for your best argument against it to be ‘it’s been a part of baseball for a long time” – that’s WEAK. VERY WEAK. Slavery was a part of American culture (especially in the south) for a long time – still wasn’t a good arguement not to abolish it. That’s pretty much the worst argument you can ever use for anything. Drinking is a huge part of most alcoholics’ lives and it has been that way pretty much since the start of their adult lives – so they should stop drinking?

  2. I disagree.If these kids parents do there job it would dissuad them form dipping. Plus its bad for you ,people gott amake there own decisions.WTF cares if there dipping. A ban would pi$$ the players off and treat them like society treats people who wanna have a goddamn cig after a meal outside of a restaraunt.I dont smoke,but wtf should anyone care if Aunt Ginny doesn liek the smelll? or lil timmy has to walk by a smoker.Shut the f up and fix real problems in this county.Like the brutal capatilism middle class lives under and the rich and poor and under extreme socialism to keep spoonfeeding them goodies.

    And why dont they put a ban on these fat slob americans walking around stuffing there faces and running up insurance rates cause they have no self controll?Im schooled in fitness and health and thats Americas big social issue. Fat slobs.Take the cheeseburger from your lips and walk around the block.

  3. erock – um, if your concern is driving up health insurance costs…well… you don’t think tobacco use is a factor? Sure Obesity is a HUGE (pun intended) issue and factor in raising heahcare costs, but defending tobacco use is counter to your argument

  4. Erock – it just seems strange to me that you want poeple to be healthy in one area but you’re cool with them doing something toxic to their bodies that can kill you in another.

  5. I think smoking is a big problem in this country. But i dont care if major leaguers wanna smoke or dip. Most smokers i know arent fat slobs.

    Just bothers me these d-bags worry about this stuff when theres poor kids in our cities who need help and theres no exercise programs for kids in schools today.Or some i should say.

  6. erock – I hear you. How about no affordable heatlhy food in many neighborhoods, etc etc etc… the government spends most of their time finding ways to keep the rich rich. That’s all

  7. I am with Erock on this one. I hate tobacco in any form, but it is not the responsibility of MLB to make sure that my kids don’t use it. It is my responsibility. I understand that children want to do what athletes do, but it is getting to be too much away from personal responsibility.

    And where/how should the government provide more healthy alternatives for food? If you say schools, then I agree, but the budgets are always the first to go. If you mean restaurants or stores, what business is it of the government to tell a store/restaurant what to stock/sell? By making restaurants and stores publish nutrition information, they have provided the consumer with the info that they need to make their own choice. If they make the “bad” choice, then that is no one’s fault but theirs.

  8. Duh…
    It causes cancer.
    just like smoking does…
    If the ballplayers don’t care that’s their worry…
    but if kids are emulating them they need to get the message.
    This isn’t about being politically correct or personal liberty…
    It’s about not dying unnecessarily.

  9. bugs – I agree in terms of it not being the MLB’s job to keep kids from using tobacco. I don’t think the MLB/Chew issue is nor it should be all about kids and the influence on them etc…. I think it’s more about having standards for what the MLB image is for the entire population, including the players. It’s an odd tradition in a sense, and don’t get me wrong – I agree it’s part of the tradition etc…. – that baseball players chew stuff/do ‘drugs’ during a sporting event. It really is odd. It would look really weird to see an NFL player on the sidelines drinking a beer or smoking a cigarette. Or for that matter consuming anything other than water or sports drinks – remember the hot dog thing last year? But in baseball we say – yeah it’s normal, they’re playing a sport and doing drugs simultaneously.

    Bugsy – city (small gov) can make efforts to incentivise supermarkets in low income areas, and regulate zoning for fastfood restaurants. That can be done – on top of the school stuff – i agree there.

    I’m not even saying it has to be a government issue. Our culture in general has a lot of work to do on health – and I’d agree that it shouldn’t/doesn’t all have to come from the government.

    run – hope you have health insurance if you can get sick from just listening to a liberal

  10. I am a firm believer that it is a person right to do with their body what they wish (smoke, drink, tattos, piercings etc.) and a parent has the right to raise a child as he/she wishes (within bounds of course)

    I also believe people are responsible for their own actions (being fat, smoking and illness, drinking can’t go to work etc.)

    My problem is when people can collect government benefits based upon physical defects caused by poor health choices – or worse – a 400 lb lady can sue Pfizer because she is so fat her joints hurt, and the medicine that helped her joints caused her heart attack (very condensed version there..)

    Out here in the land of sunshine and granola – sodas are banned from schools, can’t have anything latex or peanuts (allergies) it just gets ridiculous (unless your the parent of the kid with the allergies –

    I am biased – as I posted up front – its a nasty habit, and I was a MLB rep or owner, and I was responsible for the health of my ‘commodities’ I would not want them dipping… nasty

  11. It’s interesting how some teams though (and not the MLB, just the team) have standards for hair and facial hair, but not for keeping their atheletes healthy…. (clearly the Phillies are cool with the hair..)

    I think we need to be careful though, to not simply blame all obesity on people. Many medical conditions and other circumstances factor into it and can even cause obesity. Heck, a lot of psych meds cause obesity and some drug companies have been shown to cover that up. I think it’s VASTLY oversimplifying things to say that every fat person is at fault and it’s simply a matter of initiative/motivation/personal responsibility.

  12. Schill, you bring up really good points, but does anyone else feel like you could present all of this info and options and people will still eat what they want? Education as always is the key, but there is no money to make healthy food choice or to have physical education or to have after school programs. Or books, teachers or classroom space.

    We definitely all agree that chew is one of the nastiest things around. Look at the Sandlot if you want to see what could happen.

  13. Bugsy – yep you are right – there is no money to devote to those things in general – BUT THERE IS – it’s in the bank accounts of the rich in America -….yada yada yada, politics….repubs v. dems….etc…etc…. what day is it again?

  14. Stop…Leave tobacco use alone…I am so sick of the nanny state and the twerps that support such infringements on our personal behavior…What is the complaint here, as there is no smoke?…Some freaks must always seek to control other people, but you will find that in a case where real courage is needed to help a person, or address a situation, they are nowhere to be found…Especially if money is involved.

  15. It’s mostly the white players who chew tobbacco, I don’t think the % is that high of the black and latino players who mostly check gum and why they have better teeth when they are 40 years

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