Baseball Season Opens Tonight with Historic Restrictions on Tobacco

April 04, 2012


Major League Baseball players who take the field tonight and tomorrow for the opening games of the 2012 season must do so without a tin of tobacco in their uniform pockets — one of the ground-breaking restrictions on smokeless tobacco included in the new contract.

The limits on smokeless tobacco use, won through the efforts of the coalition to Knock Tobacco Out of the Park, provide an historic opportunity for players to improve their health and become better role models for millions of young fans.

Under the agreement that MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association announced in November, big-league players, managers and coaches will no longer be able to carry a tobacco tin or package in their uniforms or on their bodies at games, or any time that fans are in the ballpark. They will be prohibited from using smokeless tobacco during televised interviews, at autograph signings and other events where they meet fans, or at team-sponsored appearances. Violators are subject to discipline.

What is (and is not) in the new players' contract

We urge individual players to go further than the agreement, and completely eliminate tobacco use at games.

To be effective, the league, MLB teams and the players’ union must rigorously enforce the limits.  And you can help:  When you see tobacco use, report it to us. We’ll tell the league and the union about violations and put together a record that shows why no tobacco use should be allowed when players are at games.

The restrictions come at a time when the tobacco industry is spending record sums to promote smokeless products and hook a new generation of youth. The recent Surgeon General’s report called tobacco use a “pediatric epidemic,” and noted that the tobacco industry is using an array of smokeless products and marketing tactics to entice teens. It’s having an effect: The rate of smokeless tobacco use by high school boys has skyrocketed by 36 percent since 2003. 

We continue to support a complete prohibition on tobacco use at games and on camera.

Nevertheless, the new contract represents significant progress. 

Baseball players have been using tobacco since the earliest days of the game. This agreement – and this season – marks the first time that the league and the players have recognized it is time to break this unhealthy addiction.