Baseball’s Opening Day means “hope and excitement,” but it also means the return of a “blot on our sport”: chewing tobacco on the field, writes Bobby Valentine. “For many of us, it is simply part of the sport,” but the MLB—and those who love it—can no longer afford that. “Smokeless tobacco causes oral cancer, mouth lesions, gum disease, and tooth decay,” it’s associated with “heart attacks and pancreatic cancer,” and it may lead to smoking, the former Mets manager notes in the New York Times.
Sure, it’s legal, but big leaguers are setting a bad example. “Young players look up to star players and copy them—the stance, the swing,” and “the bulge in the lip.” Meanwhile, high school boys’ tobacco use has jumped 36% since 2003, and while the tobacco industry pushes smokeless products, players who chew “are, in effect, providing free advertising.” It’s time for action: “As they negotiate the 2012 contract, Major League Baseball and the players should include a comprehensive ban on the use of tobacco products during games.”