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Opening Day brings hope for tobacco-free MLB

When the first pitch is thrown out Sunday on Opening Day 2016, it will mark the beginning of the first year in the history of Major League Baseball that some stadiums will be tobacco-free.

Laws passed in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco will prohibit smokeless tobacco at sports venues. California recently passed a statewide ban. Later in April, the Dodgers, Red Sox, and Giants will host home openers that are free of smokeless tobacco. Other laws are expected to go into effect later in the season. 

Representatives of 34 health organizations, including Truth Initiative, have signed a letter calling on Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association, to prohibit the use of all tobacco products – including smokeless tobacco – at Major League venues.

“Tobacco remains the No. 1 preventable cause of death in the United States, and for years, our health organizations have called for an end to smokeless tobacco in baseball,” the health officials said in their letter.

“Smokeless tobacco companies spent $503.2 million on marketing in 2013 (the most recent data available), much of it appealing to children. Smokeless tobacco use in baseball reinforces the industry’s message that teen boys cannot be real men unless they chew,” they added.

Minor-league baseball officials have banned smokeless tobacco since 1993.