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It’s About Kids: ESPN Highlights Need for MLB Players to Set Right Example (and Follow the Law) by Ridding Baseball of Smokeless Tobacco
Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
The move to rid Major League Baseball of smokeless tobacco got a terrific boost this weekend with the airing of the latest “Outside the Lines” segment on ESPN. With Opening Day less than a week away, we urge Major League players to set the right example for their millions of young fans by stopping their use and role modeling of chewing and dipping tobacco.
While most players have responded positively to the new laws in San Francisco, Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago and New York and recognized the impact of their actions on young fans, a player representative told ESPN they are prepared to fight penalties even if players violate these laws banning tobacco use in ballparks. Once all of the new laws have been implemented, fully one-third of all ballparks will be covered (a statewide law in California will take effect before the 2017 season). We call on all major league players – whether they use tobacco or not – to reject this narrow approach and instead help our youth understand that tobacco has no place in baseball and no place in the eyes and minds of young fans.
Study after study confirms – and almost any Little League ballplayer will tell you – that major league ballplayers are role models whom kids look up to and emulate. Players who chew tobacco are already setting a terrible example for the millions of young fans. If they don’t follow the law and continue to fight these simple moves to rid the sport of a dangerous artifact, then they will destroy whatever credibility and positive image they may have.
This year’s MLB All-Star Game will be in San Diego. What better tribute to Padres all-time great Tony Gwynn than having all players, coaches, fans and others come together to rid our national pastime, once and for all, of smokeless tobacco. It’s time to send the right message to kids that baseball is about promoting a healthy and active lifestyle, not a deadly and addictive product.