House Members, Little League Join Call for Tobacco-Free Baseball

November 04, 2011

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Two more members of Congress and Little League International have joined the drive to end smokeless tobacco use in Major League Baseball, urging big-league ballplayers to become better role models for the next generation of fans.

Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Ca) and Frank Pallone (D-NJ), who conducted hearings in April 2010 on tobacco use in the major leagues, urged the Major League Baseball Players Association to agree to a tobacco prohibition in the contract that takes effect in 2012. Waxman is the top Democrat on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and Pallone is the ranking member on the panel’s health subcommittee.

'The impending collective bargaining agreement gives Major League Baseball and the MLBPA the opportunity to improve the health of its players, improve the integrity of the game, and ensure that big-league players continue to be valuable role models for the game's next generation of fans,' the lawmakers wrote.

In a letter to players' union chief Michael Weiner, Little League President Stephen D. Keener noted that Little League has 'insisted for nearly three-quarters of a century' that adults involved in the youth league teach sportsmanship, fair play and 'present themselves as good role models while on the field of play.'

Keener urged the players union to agree to the tobacco ban 'for the role models Little Leaguers see in Major League ballparks, on television and online — not just for the benefit of the children who idolize them, but for the players themselves.'

There are 2.5 million Little Leaguers in 85 countries and on six continents. The league has banned all forms of tobacco use since it was founded in 1939. The prohibition extends to any adult on the field or in the dugouts. Keener implored the union to join the 'important fight' against smokeless tobacco use on behalf of young players: 'They deserve nothing less.'

Contract talks between the MLB and the players union are in their final weeks.

Let the players' union representatives know how important it is to Knock Tobacco Out of the Park!