Baseball and Tobacco: A Relationship on Thin Ice

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By Sarah Noel, @snoel_16 (Old Dominion University)

The “Knock Tobacco Out of the Park” Campaign has been making great strides towards Major League Baseball (MLB) becoming a tobacco-free organization. Photo via Tobacco Free Baseball

The “Knock Tobacco Out of the Park” Campaign has been making great strides towards Major League Baseball (MLB) becoming a tobacco-free organization. Photo via Tobacco Free Baseball

The “Knock Tobacco Out of the Park” Campaign has been making great strides towards Major League Baseball (MLB) becoming a tobacco-free organization.

This campaign has committed to banning the use of all smokeless tobacco products for not only their players but all personnel.

With San Francisco being the first to implement this ban, many others have followed such as Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Washington D.C., Milwaukee, Tampa Bay, and most recently St. Louis.

At the start of the 2017 MLB season, after a statewide law in California takes effect, 14 out of the 30 MLB stadiums will be tobacco-free.

The MLB has been strongly encouraged, for a long time, to end the use of smokeless tobacco in baseball. There have been so many reasons brought forth as to why this would be beneficial, not just to the players and the organization, but also to the community and fans.

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The most important of the reasons being health concerns. Tobacco use, of any kind, is harmful to one’s health.

The U.S. Surgeon General and National Cancer Institute, to name a few, have stated that the use of smokeless tobacco is dangerous to one’s health and can lead to nicotine addiction.

Smokeless tobacco has 28 harmful carcinogens that can lead to cancers such as oral, esophageal, and pancreatic.

Its use can also lead to tooth decay and gum disease and many other health problems.

Another great reason that smokeless tobacco should be banned in the MLB is the fact that MLB players are huge role models to children. If children watch their favorite players on the television use smokeless tobacco then they are, in turn, going to think it’s “cool” or “okay.”

The latest data available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that in 2013, 17.4% of male high school athletes were using smokeless tobacco products. Surveys have also shown that 14.7% of current high school boys stated they currently use smokeless tobacco products.

Advertising and marketing costs are at a record high for smokeless tobacco products with the top five companies spending more than $500 million alone in 2014.

Additionally, these smokeless tobacco companies are receiving free advertising from their products being used and displayed throughout the MLB.

Finally, the MLB is beginning to listen.

In the latest CBA, the agreement bans the use of smokeless tobacco products for all new MLB players.

With the new changes taking places for the 2017 season it soon looks like the MLB will be making its way to becoming a tobacco-free organization with all tobacco-free stadiums.  

Sarah Noel is currently a full-time student at Old Dominion University working towards a degree in Sports Management with a minor in coaching education. Her long term goal is to own and manage my own gym/facility.

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