Waxman calls on Major League Baseball officials to ban smokeless tobacco

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) is calling on Major League Baseball to ban the use of smokeless tobacco.

During a hearing on Wednesday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman cited statistics from a 2004 study by Harvard University showing how in one game of the 2004 World Series, chewing tobacco received $6.4 million worth of free advertising. Waxman said that kind of advertising leads to many teenagers becoming addicted to nicotine.

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David Prouty, chief labor counsel for the Major League Baseball Players Association, noted the difference between cigarettes and chewing tobacco in a prepared statement: "Cigarettes impact the ability to play the game, are banned from public use under a variety of state and municipal laws, and may endanger the health of those in the immediate area. Baseball players should not be prohibited from using substances that are perfectly legal and available to the general public."

Robert Manfred, an executive vice president for the MLB, said that banning smokeless tobacco would require negotiations with the players union.

Manfred said, “Like drug testing, the regulation of player use of tobacco products is a mandatory subject of collective bargaining with the players association. Not even the most ardent critics of smokeless tobacco use as a public health matter would argue that it compromises the competitive integrity of the game in a manner analogous to perfomance-enhancing substances."