It is time to take tobacco out of baseball for good – to set the right example for America’s kids and protect the health of the players. Players’ use of smokeless tobacco sets a terrible example for millions of impressionable youth. Our national pastime should be about promoting a healthy and active lifestyle, not a deadly and addictive product.

For years, public health leaders have urged Major League Baseball (MLB) and the MLB Players Association to end smokeless tobacco use in baseball. The new collective bargaining agreement between owners and players reached on Nov. 30, 2016, prohibits all new MLB players from using smokeless tobacco – which means baseball is on a clear and inevitable path to become tobacco-free.

But MLB cities can make it happen sooner rather than later. To protect our kids, cities must act and prohibit all tobacco use at baseball venues across the country.

Over half of MLB stadiums (16 of 30) are now completely tobacco-free as a result of state and local laws. MLB cities covered by such laws include Anaheim, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, New York, Oakland, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis, Tampa Bay (St. Petersburg), and Washington, D.C. The remaining MLB cities must act sooner rather than later to break the link between baseball and tobacco for good.

Download our fact sheet and watch our video to learn more about the campaign.



Recent headlines have driven home the seriousness of the problem. In 2014, Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn died at age 54 from salivary gland cancer. Shortly after, pitching great Curt Schilling went public about his treatment for oral cancer. Both players attributed their health battles to their longtime use of smokeless tobacco. Their experiences generated widespread media coverage and calls to take tobacco out of baseball.

It’s official: The days of using smokeless tobacco for Mariners players and competitors during games at Safeco Field are coming to an end. At a hearing Thursday afternoon, the King County Board of Health voted unanimously to prohibit smokeless tobacco at professional sports venues countywide — an ordinance that will take effect May 19. The move is in response to health advocates who say the habit among players sets a poor example for fans and young athletes.

The Seattle Times
April 19, 2018

Smokeless tobacco will soon be banned at Miller Park and other sporting venues in Milwaukee…. Ald. Michael Murphy, the lead sponsor of the measure, said he hopes the ban sends a strong message to young people, many of whom see Major League baseball players as role models. “Baseball should really be a sport promoting physical fitness, not the opposite. Which in is promoting, in this case, cancer,” Murphy said.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
November 22, 2016

logo_stlouisBaseball players with big wads of chewing tobacco in their cheek are now a thing from the past at Busch Stadium. The St. Louis Board of Aldermen voted Friday to prohibit the use of smokeless tobacco products like chewing tobacco, dip and snuff at all sports venues, including Cardinals games at Busch Stadium….Cardinals spokesman Ron Watermon said the team supported the ban.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
February 3, 2017

logo_usatodayMLB and the union, according to The Associated Press, agreed to ban smokeless tobacco for all new major leaguers, a proactive step to rid the game of a disgusting, cancer-causing habit that Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn’s family insists contributed to his 2014 death at the age of 54.

USA Today
December 1, 2016

Get the Facts

The widespread use of smokeless tobacco in baseball helps to promote a product that can lead to nicotine addiction and causes cancer, as well as other health problems. Given this terrible example, it’s no surprise that too many kids are using smokeless tobacco. In 2018, 8.4 percent of high school boys (and 5.9 percent of all high school students) reported current use of smokeless tobacco products.

REASON #1: Smokeless tobacco is harmful to health

Public health authorities including the Surgeon General and the National Cancer Institute have found that smokeless tobacco use is hazardous to health and can lead to nicotine addiction. Smokeless tobacco contains at least 28 cancer-causing chemicals and causes oral, pancreatic and esophageal cancer. Use of smokeless tobacco is also associated with other health problems including lesions in the mouth and tooth decay. Smokeless tobacco use increases the risk of death when users have heart attacks or strokes.

REASON #2: Too many kids are using smokeless tobacco

Even as cigarette use continues a steady decline among youth, smokeless tobacco use has remained troublingly steady. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2018, 8.4 percent of high school boys reported current use of smokeless tobacco products. A different survey found that high school athletes use smokeless tobacco at nearly twice the rate of non-athletes, and smokeless tobacco use among athletes increased 11 percent from 2001 to 2013, even as smoking rates dropped significantly. Among male high school athletes, smokeless tobacco use was particularly alarming at 17.4 percent in 2013. Each day, more than 1,200 kids age 12-17 use smokeless tobacco for the first time.


REASON #3: Tobacco use in baseball reinforces tobacco marketing

Smokeless tobacco companies are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to get young people to use their products. In fact, marketing and promotional expenditures for the top five smokeless tobacco companies totaled $718.3 million in 2017 (the most recent year available). Smokeless tobacco continues to be heavily advertised in magazines with large youth readerships, often with a message telling teen boys they can’t be real men without smokeless tobacco. The ads have tag lines like “May cause the urge to act like a man.” Smokeless tobacco use in baseball reinforces that message.


REASON #4: Professional baseball players are role models for youth

An expert from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that, “Professional athletes in certain sports, including baseball . . . have traditionally had high levels of smokeless tobacco use. Athletes serve as role models for youth, and smokeless tobacco manufacturers have used advertising, images, and testimonials featuring athletes and sports to make smokeless tobacco products appear attractive to youth. Children and teens closely observe athletes’ actions, including their use of tobacco products, and are influenced by what they see. Adolescents tend to mimic the behaviors of those they look up to and identify with, including baseball players and other athletes.”


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* Truth Initiative is a strong supporter of tobacco-free baseball, but does not lobby and does not support or oppose specific legislation.




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