Tobacco

Knocking Smokeless Tobacco Out of the Ballpark

Liberty suffers another blow in Chicago 'for the children.'

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Wrigley Field
Credit: Sangre-La.com / photo on flickr

Fans do not attend Major League Baseball games to enhance their physical health. Among their customary activities are eating hot dogs, drinking beer or sugary soda, sitting idly for hours on end and stressing terribly about inconsequential events on the field of play. 

But this season, those at Wrigley Field and U.S. Cellular Field will have to forgo one vice. Chicago recently became the fourth city to outlaw smokeless tobacco in sports stadiums (followed shortly by New York).

The law owes much to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, whose president, Matthew Myers, says, "Our national pastime should be about promoting a healthy and active lifestyle, not a deadly and addictive product."

But don't worry, MillerCoors and Anheuser-Busch. He's not talking about your wares. Alcohol is one deadly and addictive product that will remain legal, welcome and profitable at professional sports venues. Some venues—Miller Park, Busch Stadium, Coors Field—are even named after brewing giants.

Alcohol is not just for fans, either. What do players do in the locker room after winning a title? They spray and drink enough Champagne to float a battleship.

Not everyone is happy about the new law. Cubs pitcher John Lackey, who doesn't use smokeless tobacco, took the position that "grown men should have their own choice." Catcher Miguel Montero lamented, "It's going to be tough to quit cold turkey."

But the most cogent objection came from Cubs manager Joe Maddon, evincing an affinity for libertarian principles. "I'm into personal freedoms," he said. "I'm not into over-legislating the human race." He even offered a modest counterproposal: "Educate the masses and let everybody make their own decision."

Illinois already forbids smoking in stadiums, on the grounds that watching the White Sox attempt to catch and throw the ball—they were the worst defensive team in baseball last season—is miserable enough without having to peer through someone else's cigarette fumes. Not only that but secondhand smoke carries health risks to innocent bystanders, including death from cancer.

But secondhand spit is a danger only to your shoes, not your lungs. The person in front of you could be getting a nicotine fix without your ever being aware of it, much less injured by it. The difference between banning cigarettes and banning snuff is the difference between minding your business and butting into everyone else's.

Using these products is less hazardous than sucking on paper cylinders stuffed with burning leaves, but it's not harmless. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smokeless tobacco causes cancer of the mouth, esophagus and pancreas, among other maladies.

The danger gained attention when two baseball legends who chewed tobacco, Tony Gwynn and Curt Schilling, contracted oral cancer (which in Gwynn's case was fatal). But it remains a legal commodity that adults are allowed to consume at their own risk, like booze and bratwurst. 

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids justifies its overbearing demand with the pretext that it's for the good of the children. "Players' use of smokeless tobacco sets a terrible example for millions of impressionable youth," it says. A complete ban in baseball is essential "to protect our kids."

Really? It's not as though our heroes are flaunting their addiction. Spectators at the ballpark or at home would have trouble detecting which players are chewing Red Man and which are chewing gum or sunflower seeds.

If a small percentage of high-school boys dip or chew—almost no girls do—it's not because they idolize Miguel Montero. Blaming ballplayers for adolescent use of smokeless tobacco is like blaming Taylor Swift for teenage heartbreak.

Players and owners have already taken steps to shield children. Tobacco in any form is banned in the minor leagues, with fines for players caught with it, even in their lockers.

Major league players are not allowed to use smokeless tobacco when signing autographs, giving interviews or doing events with fans, and they're forbidden to possess it on the field—a change from the days when tins of snuff were a common back-pocket cargo. Strict discretion is the norm.

That should be enough. The existing arrangement in Major League Baseball accommodates the reasonable goal of not encouraging kids to use tobacco and the right of players and coaches (not to mention fans) to exercise their own preferences.

As addictive habits go, chewing tobacco is bad. But over-legislating the human race is worse. 

© Copyright 2016 by Creators Syndicate Inc. 

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    1. Someone doesn’t like the European style of hockey fan.

  1. Did the player’s union get something out of the deal? Ok, nicotine is out, HGH is in.

  2. “””” Among their customary activities are eating hot dogs, drinking beer or sugary soda, sitting idly for hours on end and stressing terribly about inconsequential events “””

    Sounds like my exercise program.

    1. How else are we supposed to get the four major food groups: salt, sugar, grease, and alcohol?

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  4. So many people’s endless tendency towards animism is very depressing. It looks like smoking, so it’s bad, even though it’s far, far better for people. Actual results? Meaningless. Appearance? Everything. Just like politicians.

    Fuck, people are stupid.

    1. Isn’t that the other nicotine thread?

    2. These are EDT posts and yet you’re here. I never forget a time zone, Mr. Western Time.

      Now, tell me, why are you here? And tell me where I may find Admiral Pro Lib.

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        1. Rico was your host. You repaid his hospitality by trying to steal his comments and flame him!

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              1. What’s going on? And why am I wearing this red shirt? And why does Kirstie Alley look sexy?

  5. If a small percentage of high-school boys dip or chew?almost no girls do?it’s not because they idolize Miguel Montero

    He may cause kids in Pittsburgh to never chew seeing as he may have given the sign to Randall Delgado to hit mccutchen with a pitch in 2014 when with the Diamondbacks.

  6. Among their customary activities are eating hot dogs, drinking beer or sugary soda, sitting idly for hours on end and stressing terribly about inconsequential events on the field of play.

    Someone sounds bitter

    1. It’s Bill Buckner all over again.

  7. The law owes much to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, whose president, Matthew Myers, says, “Our national pastime should be about promoting a healthy and active lifestyle, not a deadly and addictive product.”

    Not banning is promoting.

  8. The difference between banning cigarettes and banning snuff is the difference between minding your business and butting into everyone else’s.

    Ummm…

  9. Damn. I don’t wanna like the Cubs. I’m a Cardinals fan dammit.

  10. “Our national pastime should be about promoting a healthy and active lifestyle, not a deadly and addictive product.”

    Baseball players are fit because of the things they do that are not fucking baseball.

    1. leave the fucking of baseball to me: http://users.bestweb.net/~robg…..eball.html . I’ve gone beyond that since; it’ll be 5 bases in a pentagon, same # of players.

  11. As addictive habits go, chewing tobacco is bad. But over-legislating the human race is worse.

    The latter causes cancer of the social fabric, among other maladies.

  12. Not only that but secondhand smoke carries health risks to innocent bystanders, including death from cancer.

    Actually, that’s never been conclusively proven, and a large study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute finds no correlation between “second-hand” smoke and cancer.

    Link

    But please, go on. Smokers are icky and smells you don’t like cause cancer.

    1. http://ije.oxfordjournals.org/…../1048.full

      Except there are plenty that back it up. Here is a meta-analysis of 55 studies across various continents.

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK44330/

      Or more if you want to get really picky.

      1. I don’t need to get picky, I just need to point out that both links point to studies conducted over a decade prior to the one I referenced, subject to the various shortcomings for which the study I referred to attempted to control.

  13. Dude that makes no sense at all man, Absolutely none. Wow.

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  15. About 10-20 years ago, we started to see “smoke-free” appear everywhere. This is no longer good enough for the control freaks, now everything must be “tobacco-free.”, which of course includes e-cigs, though they do not actually contain any tobacco. Its not hard to see where this is going, the WHO recently declared an “End Game” for tobacco by 2030 I believe. Make of that what you will, but it sounds a lot like prohibition and bans on baseball players dipping are part of that.

    Science does not matter any more to them, like the climate change loons who are against nuclear power or biofuels, because they want people to change their behavior, not actually prevent bad outcomes. Tobacco control is also very well funded by Michael Bloomberg and the pharma industry, who profit handsomely from nicorette sales with every new tobacco ban (note that no place has ever banned nicotine, or tried to prevent minors from chewing Nicorette).

    1. Except that it is starting to come to that. I’ve recently been looking for work and I was shocked to discover that some places now test employees and potential employees for nicotine use, so that would include gum and patches. While I’m all for a private company being able to use whatever criteria it chooses for hiring practices, there is obviously a lot of misinformation out there being pushed by the fun police.

      1. I have heard of this, though I do not think it is widespread since many states have laws that forbid employers from not hiring/firing people just because they smoke. You can also get a note from your doctor that you use pharma nicotine (tell them you have tried other meds and they don’t work and be sure that you never smoke on the job!) to manage ADHD or anxiety, then the employer would be reluctant to not hire/fire you for fear of an ADA violation.

        1. I do admire using regulations to get around regulations (it serves them right) but it really shouldn’t come to that. First of all, if someone wants to shoot up herein on their weekend and somehow manages to keep that out of their professional life, then it shouldn’t matter one way or another to an employer, but this isn’t anywhere close to that hypothetical extreme. With nicotine use, we’re talking about a drug that is almost chemically identical to caffeine. So why not ban coffee breaks?
          The hysterical masses have become more dangerous than the government. Just everyone mind your own business. Why is that so difficult?

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  17. Now the Cubs will win the series for sure!

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  19. RE: Knocking Smokeless Tobacco Out of the Ballpark
    Liberty suffers another blow in Chicago ‘for the children.’

    This is a wise idea.
    Otherwise all that smoke might get into the lungs of children.
    Don’t you people know anything?

  20. The villains must all be removed from power, and the despicable anti-tobacco zealots must be rebuked in the harshest of terms, as they are rendered powerless!
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  22. For decades the vast majority of middle and upper class White Americans have sat in smug silence as the net of prohibition widened from Chinese immigrants to inner city Blacks to Mexican farm workers to long-haired anti-war protesters to low-income rural trailer trash. Now the “we-have-kill-you-to-protect-you” crowd is coming for your tobacco and your pain killers, and I wonder how many of you even see the connection between your precious war on drugs and your own lost liberty.

  23. Given that the stadiums are funded by taxpayer dollars, it makes sense that individuals should be able to watch the games without exposure to second-hand nicotine.

    The laws are really quite backward. Individuals should be free to walk on any publicly-funded property without exposure to smoke of any kind (government buildings, roads, sidewalks, etc). Anything that’s private property should be allowed to make up its own rules (concerts, bars, homes, etc).

    As for chewing tobacco, it’s less about whether someone is exposed to it and more that the users spit everywhere.

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  26. By my political belief, this is a bad thing, but I have to say I am glad it is gone. Smokeless tobacco and the constant spitting is disgusting.

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