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Baseball and the Slow Death of Chewing Tobacco

Baseball has many things that are an integral part of game. Unfortunately, chewing tobacco has been tied to baseball for as long as the game has been played. Like most things in baseball, change is slow and grueling. Players can still be seen with a dip in their mouth even though 16 of the 30 MLB stadiums have banned the use of smokeless tobacco. It’s still part of the game and the Twins are no stranger to tobacco use.
Image courtesy of © Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Slow Change, a Baseball Tradition
College baseball banned smokeless tobacco in 1990 and the minor leagues quickly followed suit in 1993. Over the last 26 years, Major League Baseball has only made gradual changes to their chewing tobacco policies.

As part of the 2012 collective bargaining agreement, the league banned players from carrying tobacco packages or tin in their pockets at any time when the ballpark was open to fans. They also couldn’t use it as part of pregame or postgame interviews.

MLB took it one step further with the 2016 collective bargaining agreement by banning smokeless tobacco for all new major league players. Players already in the big leagues were grandfathered in under this rule so they would still be able to use smokeless tobacco. In 2015, a study found that 37% of MLB players and coaches used smokeless tobacco. This total is almost six times higher than the national average for males (6.4%).

Many cities and states across the country have put in place laws to ban smokeless tobacco in public places. As of June, smokeless tobacco is now banned in over half of major-league stadiums. Minnesota is not one of the 16 stadiums to be included in the ban.
Attached Image: KTOOP_Graphic_16-teams.png
Minnesota’s Clubhouse
Almost all current members of the Minnesota Twins were big leaguers in 2016 so they would be grandfathered in under the current collective bargaining agreement. As recently as 2016, legislation in Minnesota was introduced to ban the use of tobacco at Target Field and CHS Field.

“In general, Major League Baseball and the Twins are supportive of legislative efforts and any efforts to ban smokeless tobacco,” Twins president Dave St. Peter told the Pioneer Press. “It’s long been baseball’s position that it’s something we’d like to get out of our game.”

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has been clear on the league’s stance when it comes to chewing tobacco. “For many years we’ve been clear about baseball’s stance on smokeless tobacco,” Manfred said. “It’s banned in the minor leagues. We have proposed on a number of occasions a similar ban at the big-league level. We’ve not been able to negotiate it.”

In 2014, Hall of Fame outfielder Tony Gwynn tragically passed away at age 54 from salivary-gland cancer. At the time, some players swore off using chewing tobacco for their own health and families. That still hasn’t stopped current players. Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano, two players the Twins are supposed to build around, have both been known smokeless tobacco users. There are no doubt other players on the team that have a similar addiction.

More cities and states will take action in the years ahead. Fewer players will be grandfathered under the current collective bargaining agreement. Chewing tobacco, a baseball staple, is dying a slow death, but thankfully it might not be part of the baseball world future generations will know.

Should baseball do more about chewing tobacco? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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90 Comments

There are plenty of laws already concerning use of alcohol. What point exactly where you trying to make by bringing it up repeatedly in this thread?


That it’s far more dangerous than dipping tobacco and mlb allows their employees to use it in their clubhouses and their fans to use it in their stadiums, and also profits from it. Sheesh I didn’t know this would be that difficult to comprehend.

 

What does throwing a dozen Budweiser ads up per game do for perpetuating bad habits amongst fans? I can’t think of a single televised sporting event I’ve ever seen where alcohol wasn’t a prominent advertiser.

There's a big difference between (disclosed) advertising and a player's use of a product.

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nicksaviking
Jun 13 2019 12:29 PM

 

That it’s far more dangerous than dipping tobacco and mlb allows their employees to use it in their clubhouses and their fans to use it in their stadiums, and also profits from it. Sheesh I didn’t know this would be that difficult to comprehend.

 

Alcohol is dangerous when used illegally.

 

I'm fine if tobacco can stays, as long as the nicotine is just removed. We have a long history of banning harmful ingestible chemicals, I'm not sure why this is treated differently. If nicotine were removed, tobacco would be on more square footing with alcohol, as booze is something that only a small percentage of people are addicted to while nearly everyone who uses tobacco is addicted.

There's a big difference between (disclosed) advertising and a player's use of a product.


Um

Attached Thumbnails

  • Attached Image: E15855CC-FA47-4823-B6B7-78345026B2B2.jpeg

 

Meh. They're adults. I think it's a disgusting habit but if they want to do it, who cares? Our culture has become such a bunch of wimps. 

 

They're on the job. Their employer has the right to decide what they can and can't do on the field and at the stadium.

    • Nine of twelve likes this

 

Um

So? The thread was discussing Budweiser ads in stadiums and on TV.

 

Also, they aren't exactly consuming the alcohol in that photo.

Alcohol is dangerous when used illegally.

I'm fine if tobacco can stays, as long as the nicotine is just removed. We have a long history of banning harmful ingestible chemicals, I'm not sure why this is treated differently. If nicotine were removed, tobacco would be on more square footing with alcohol, as booze is something that only a small percentage of people are addicted to while nearly everyone who uses tobacco is addicted.


Like they say “impairment starts with the first drink”

Maybe a small percentage of people who drink are addicted, but something like 13% of the adult population is considering to be alcoholics. So if tobacco use is around 6%..

 

I think we may be giving kids too much credit paying attention to what's inside a baseball player's mouth. Growing up I never noticed Tony Gwynn and other baseball players were using chew on the field.

I don't think it's about the kids, really -- MLB gets an immediate, direct benefit if they discourage players from using tobacco and help players quit. Indirect benefits beyond that are just gravy.

 

That said, those indirect benefits are also not just about fans like us seeing a player doing it on TV or at the stadium. It's about the culture. That minor leaguer who chews will go on to be the town ball teammate that chews, or the high school coach that chews. Or he'll have a kid that's more likely to play ball -- and more likely to chew, regardless of what his father says about substance abuse.

They're on the job. Their employer has the right to decide what they can and can't do on the field and at the stadium.


Yeah, but I highly doubt you’ll find too many places that won’t let you take a smoke break but will allow you to down a 6 pack on lunch.
    • Nine of twelve likes this

So? The thread was discussing Budweiser ads in stadiums and on TV.
 
Also, they aren't exactly consuming the alcohol in that photo.


Oh stop don’t be ridiculous. I worked in baseball for several years at a place that had josh hancock’s Jersey hanging in the clubhouse right next to trash cans full of empty beer cans

 

That it’s far more dangerous than dipping tobacco and mlb allows their employees to use it in their clubhouses and their fans to use it in their stadiums, and also profits from it. Sheesh I didn’t know this would be that difficult to comprehend.

I didn't think it would be difficult to comprehend, when I said that a business can justify taking one step to save themselves money and improve the health of their employees without taking every possible step to do so.

 

Yet here we are.

 

Yeah, but I highly doubt you’ll find too many places that won’t let you take a smoke break but will allow you to down a 6 pack on lunch.

I have no idea what point you're trying to make here. 

I have no idea what point you're trying to make here.


The organization that says you can’t dip in the dugout allows you to drink in the clubhouse. How is this so hard to understand.

I didn't think it would be difficult to comprehend, when I said that a business can justify taking one step to save themselves money and improve the health of their employees without taking every possible step to do so.

Yet here we are.

Who said they couldn’t? Did I say that? I just called them hypocrites, which you cannot possibly argue against.

 

So 1/3 of major leaguers dip or chew and only 6% of nonplaying males use it. I wonder how many players drink heavily? Just because we can’t see them do it doesn’t make much of a difference. Hardly seems like much to worry about. Unlike smoking, it only affects the user, unless you are squeamish about people spitting. These guys are going to parks like 9 months out of the year. Let them have a little something. Maybe require some preseason education about he dangers of using. Not a big deal IMO, just something for some folks to feel good about.

Having sat next to someone spitting, into a cup, at a game ... it's not about being squeamish ... it's just gross. I'd be happy for it to be banned in the stadium.

    • nicksaviking likes this

 

The organization that says you can’t dip in the dugout allows you to drink in the clubhouse. How is this so hard to understand.

This alcohol vs chew seems irrelevant, but thanks for putting me in my place.

This alcohol vs chew seems irrelevant, but thanks for putting me in my place.


Lol wasn’t trying to put your in your place, you said you didn’t understand my point. I thought I’d help out.

Having sat next to someone spitting, into a cup, at a game ... it's not about being squeamish ... it's just gross. I'd be happy for it to be banned in the stadium.


I feel the same way when I sit next to a fat guy eating nachos. To each his own I guess.
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nicksaviking
Jun 13 2019 12:44 PM

 

Like they say “impairment starts with the first drink”

Maybe a small percentage of people who drink are addicted, but something like 13% of the adult population is considering to be alcoholics. So if tobacco use is around 6%..

 

Chewing tobacco is 6%, not overall tobacco use. And like most people, I don't mind if my kids become adults and have a drink or two because I know if they use moderation, they will be healthy and fine. Your one dip a day is nice not the norm; people considered tobacco users are not afforded moderation due to the nature of the product and the additional addictive properties pumped into them, they are by design, unhealthy, alcohol in moderation is not.

 

But again, not the point. If you think alcohol should be banned if tobacco is banned, fine, but alcohol is more ingrained in society and would be difficult to prohibit again, so let's start with the easy one.

    • spycake likes this

 

I feel the same way when I sit next to a fat guy eating nachos. To each his own I guess.

So do I ... so you go over there -------------> and sit. ;)

    • Nine of twelve likes this

Chewing tobacco is 6%, not overall tobacco use. And like most people, I don't mind if my kids become adults and have a drink or two because I know if they use moderation, they will be healthy and fine. Your one dip a day is nice not the norm; people considered tobacco users are not afforded moderation due to the nature of the product and the additional addictive properties pumped into them, they are by design, unhealthy, alcohol in moderation is not.
 
But again, not the point. If you think alcohol should be banned if tobacco is banned, fine, but alcohol is more ingrained in society and would be difficult to prohibit again, so let's start with the easy one.


I don’t buy your last point. Maybe from a fan standpoint, yes. But there’s zero reason it should be in any clubhouse if other things aren’t. Beer is no more ingrained to the players than tobacco. It’s not that it’s easier, it just costs less to ban it.

 

Who said they couldn’t? Did I say that? I just called them hypocrites, which you cannot possibly argue against.

You've dismissed legitimate justifications for the tobacco ban all through this thread. You called the ban "just something for some folks to feel good about".

 

You also called them hypocrites for not banning hot dogs and soda, so I'd argue your use of the term is pretty loose to the point where it doesn't have much practical meaning.

You've dismissed legitimate justifications for the tobacco ban all through this thread. You called the ban "just something for some folks to feel good about".

You also called them hypocrites for not banning hot dogs and soda, so I'd argue your use of the term is pretty loose to the point where it doesn't have much practical meaning.

That was obviously hyperbole, but you knew that.

The same arguments you make for banning tobacco can be made for banning booze. Immediate impact, long term health concerns, fan interaction. Or is that not correct?
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nicksaviking
Jun 13 2019 01:14 PM

 

I don’t buy your last point. Maybe from a fan standpoint, yes. But there’s zero reason it should be in any clubhouse if other things aren’t. Beer is no more ingrained to the players than tobacco. It’s not that it’s easier, it just costs less to ban it.

 

And I've said you have valid points with alcohol even if I don't agree with them all, again, what is your justification for keeping tobacco other than "If I can't have mine you can't have yours"?

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KirbyDome89
Jun 13 2019 01:18 PM

 

So a business can't justify taking one step to save themselves money and improve the health of their employees unless they take every possible step to do so. Got it.

I agree with Nick that holding up one side as "worse," to exonerate the other is a weak argument, but Aggies is right about the hypocrisy. Heart disease affects exponentially more people than cancer due to smokeless tobacco, yet ballparks are more than willing to push out 3000 calorie platters of artery clogging garbage to their fanbase. That absolutely has a direct financial impact. 

 

IMO banning chewing tobacco is purely PR. They can spin it as a concern for health, but that comes off as entirely hypocritical when you consider what they're selling to the fanbase that kicks in tax money to pay for the stadium, generates concession/ticket revenue, and purchases tv viewing packages. 

    • Aggies7 likes this

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