Can Baseball Players Chew Tobacco?
All varieties of smoke-free tobacco products have been used by professional athletes for many decades. Major League Baseball, however, has seen one of the highest rates of chewing tobacco usage in sports. The close link between baseball and tobacco goes way back; with tobacco baseball cards being used as a marketing scheme in the 1880s.
Struggling with the epidemic and major health concerns, Major League Baseball is taking steps to eliminate smokeless tobacco from the game.
The History of Tobacco in Major League Baseball (MLB)
In 1993, Major League Baseball banned tobacco use in their minor leagues. This ban did not prohibit Major League employees or players from using tobacco as they were covered by the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).
Since 2011, teams were no longer allowed to supply smokeless tobacco products to their players. At this time, players were also no longer allowed to use dip during interviews or carry it in their uniform. Not much more was put in place to stop chewing tobacco from being used by Major League players until 2016 when the newest CBA was called into play. The new CBA bans the use of smokeless tobacco at any games or team functions and applies to players who joined the league after the 2016 season. But it doesn’t stop at just the players. Around half of the Major League Baseball Stadiums have banned the use of tobacco by fans also.
Why do baseball players chew tobacco?
Chewing tobacco became popular among baseball players as it was a way for them to keep their mouth moíst whilst on the field during long games as the field is dry and dusty.
Why is there a ban on tobacco in Major League Baseball?
The ban has been called in for several reasons including the influence players have on young fans and the impact of chewing tobacco on former players.
Over the years, chewing tobacco has caused issues for many Major League players including Bill Tuttle and Babe Ruth. But the death of Major League player Tony Gwynn was what lead to the renewed calls for a ban on chewing tobacco in baseball. He was an avid user of chewing tobacco and died of salivary gland cancer. Although there is no proof that his cancer was caused by his chewing tobacco usage, Gwynn blamed his dip habit for causing his cancer.
Do baseball players still chew tobacco?
Despite the ban, there are still several baseball players who use chewing tobacco with studies showing that around 45% of MLB players still use smokeless tobacco.
What are some alternatives to chewing tobacco?
To replace chewing tobacco, many users in MLB were replacing their usual chew with coffee grinds that are packed with caffeine to give them a similar experience.
However, there are many better alternatives on the market such as nicotine pouches - which are tobacco-free and still give the nicotine experience.