It's been said there's no crying in baseball and now two U.S. senators want to make sure there isn't any tobacco either.Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., have sent a letter to Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig asking him to ban tobacco use on the field and in the dugouts and locker rooms at the highest level of the nation's pastime.
"It has been 28 years since the MLB ended tobacco use in its minor leagues, and it is time to extend that policy throughout MLB's venues and events," the letter says.
The senators say they are not only concerned about the health of major league players, but the young fans who look up to them. Smokeless tobacco products have long been popular among some baseball players.
"The use of smokeless tobacco by baseball players undermines the positive image of the sport and sends a dangerous message to young fans, who may be influenced by the players they look up to as role models," the letter continues.
The issue will likely come up later this year when Major League Baseball's labor contract expires in December. Any ban would have to be agreed upon by both MLB and the players association. MLB says it is concerned about smokeless tobacco and wants to rid the game of it at every level.
"Smokeless tobacco remains a significant concern to Major League Baseball. It is banned in the Minor Leagues, a policy that we strive to reach with our Major League program," said Rob Manfred, executive vice president of labor relations for Major League Baseball.
"We have been very aggressive in bringing the leading medical experts in for consultation and assistance. MLB remains committed to our efforts toward educating our players on the health risks associated with these products."
Tobacco use was banned in the minor leagues in 1993 and though Major League teams can't distribute tobacco, its players can still use it.