The U.S. senators and health officials are ready for a head on collision with a baseball tradition that’s older than the World Series, rather older than the dirt itself; chewing tobacco.
The Series is scheduled to begin this Wednesday between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Texas Rangers. The senators and health officials want the Players Union and the League to agree banning on chewing tobacco at games and on camera.
According to reports, the senators and health officials handed in their pleas separately on Tuesday. “When players use smokeless tobacco, they endanger not only their own health, but also the health of millions of children who follow their example,” the senators wrote in the letter to the union head Michael Weiner.
Sources have confirmed that the letter was signed by Dick Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate and other fellow Democrats such as Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey. It was also signed by Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Senate Health Committee Chairman Tom Harkin of Iowa.
The senators made their case by saying that millions of people will tune in to watch the World Series, which includes children. Therefore, chewing tobacco in front of them would be an irresponsible and bad act. They wrote, “Unfortunately, as these young fans root for their favorite team and players, they also will watch their on-field heroes use smokeless tobacco products.”
“It's going to be kind of hard to ban that,” Texas Rangers pitcher Matt Harrison said. “They probably would have a big fight on their hands for that. ... They can hide it a little bit better, I guess -- not be doing it in the dugout and showing it where kids can watch and stuff. But I think it's kind of like your own freedom. If that's what you want to do, then you do it.”
Baseball’s present collective bargaining agreement is set to expire in December this year. The senators, some government officials and public health groups want the Players Union and League to agree upon a tobacco ban in the next contract. The coalition also includes; the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Cancer Society and the American Medical Association. The movement has picked a lot of pace in the past year.
“Such an agreement would protect the health of players and be a great gift to your young fans,” the senators wrote. To gain more support and spread awareness, Durbin also sent copies of the letter to the Player Representatives for his home state teams, the Chicago White Sox and the Chicago Cubs. He also sent the letter to representatives from the Cardinals.
In the senate speech on Tuesday, Durbin said, “Let's not let the health and safety of young baseball fans across America be a bargaining chip between the major league players and the owners. Let's win one for the kids across America.”