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Congressman calls for ban of chewing tobacco in baseball

In recent years, health activists have taken Hollywood to task for glamorizing smoking in movies and promoting tobacco to children. (A UC-San Francisco professor is well known for his quest for smoke-free movies.) Now the fight over tobacco has reached the baseball diamond, with a prominent member of Congress asking Major League Baseball to “take action to end the use of smokeless tobacco by big league players."

Research has shown one-third of major-league baseball players use chewing tobacco, and the American Cancer Society calls athletes, who are often shown on TV using it, "the largest marketing source" for the product. The concern, of course, is that like cigarettes, smokeless tobacco is linked to a host of harmful health conditions, including oral and throat, esophageal, stomach and pancreatic cancers.

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) chaired a committee meeting today that looked at the prevalence of smokeless tobacco in the MLB and the effect it might have on young fans:

Health officials say they worry chewing tobacco... may act as a so-called gateway to cigarettes, and that children could become addicted to tobacco by emulating its use by baseball players.

Smokeless tobacco is not allowed in the minor league, and Waxman and others would like to see a similar ban in the majors.

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