Dispatch: Waxman, MLB, Smokeless

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Yesterday at a hearing, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) called on Major League Baseball to ban the use of smokeless tobacco, saying that the free publicity for the product when players use it leads many teenagers to become addicted to nicotine.

“Certainly athletes are role models for children, and we would join Rep. Waxman and others in saying baseball players shouldn’t be using smokeless tobacco on television,” says ACSH’s Jeff Stier. “While we support the use of smokeless tobacco as a means of harm reduction for addicted smokers, we still want to discourage kids from getting addicted to nicotine in any form, so we would encourage MLB to reduce the prevalence and visibility of smokeless tobacco use during games.”

“While we do think players should avoid using it publicly, the question is: should there be an official edict from Congress prohibiting its use outright?” says ACSH’s Dr. Gilbert Ross. “We don’t want someone who is supposed to be a scientist testifying to Congress that smokeless tobacco is not a safer alternative to cigarettes and therefore should be banned from the league. But like secondhand smoke in restaurants, even if there is no significant health threat, there is still an aesthetic issue with watching the players using smokeless tobacco during the game.”