11,000 Sign Open Letter Calling for Tobacco-Free Baseball

November 11, 2011

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Nearly 11,000 baseball fans and health advocates have sent an open letter to player representatives of the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) urging players to agree to prohibit smokeless tobacco use at games and on camera.

The letter was relayed to the union reps through Michael Weiner, executive director of the MLBPA, and MLB Commissioner Bud Selig.  Selig endorsed a tobacco ban on Opening Day and has proposed that a prohibition be included in the 2012 contract, which is currently being negotiated and is likely to be concluded within weeks. The players’ union has not yet agreed.

The broad coalition calling for tobacco-free baseball has grown to include more than 200 health groups, elected officials, faith leaders, youth baseball leagues and many others.  The open letter makes clear that supporters are not seeking to control players’ private use of tobacco, but to eliminate it from games that are viewed by millions of fans.

“Some of today’s brightest MLB stars have said they began using smokeless tobacco to imitate their big-league heroes,” the letter says. “When a Major League ballplayer publicly dips or chews, he is in effect providing a celebrity endorsement of tobacco, broadcast to millions of homes ... Tobacco companies literally cannot buy the advertising that some baseball players are providing for free.”

Tell MLB players to end smokeless tobacco use and be better role models for kids