Chewing in baseball

There may not be crying in baseball, but there is chew.

A new collective bargaining agreement, however, will at least reduce the visibility of smokeless tobacco to young fans.

While smokeless tobacco has been banned from Minor League Baseball since 1993 and from collegiate athletics since 1994, it is still allowed in Major League Baseball.

(Side note: As a former college athlete, I can’t understand the need or desire for a dip of smokeless tobacco while playing a sport. But, then again, I’ve never understood the appeal of stained teeth and cancer.)

Under a new collective bargaining agreement between MLB and the players association, players, managers and coaches will no longer be able to carry a smokeless tobacco can in their uniforms during games or when fans are in the stadium.

In addition, they’re prohibited from chewing during televised interviews, at autograph signings and other fan events.

Many groups are urging MLB to take it a step further and completely ban smokeless tobacco in baseball.

What aren’t being questioned are the negative health effects of tobacco.

Last year, more than 39,000 people were diagnosed with oral cancer and nearly 8,000 people died from the disease, according to the American Cancer Society. Tobacco use is a major risk factor for oral cancers.

Professional athletes are role models to many young aspiring ball players.

Across the country, more than 11 percent of male high school students use smokeless tobacco, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In Clark County, 8 percent of 12th-graders use smokeless tobacco.

So what do you think? Should professional baseball players be allowed to use smokeless tobacco during games?

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