Details of Major League Baseball’s new collective bargaining agreement are leaking out slowly, with most reported changes concerning minutiae like the qualifying-offer system.
But according to multiple reports, the CBA will force a dramatic change to baseball players’ chewing habits, with the ban of smokeless tobacco.
Heard 1 other interesting CBA detail: new MLB players will be banned from using smokeless tobacco, those already playing grandfathered in
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) December 1, 2016
One item in the labor deal that deserves attention: Smokeless tobacco banned for all first-time big-leaguers. Current players unaffected
— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) December 1, 2016
The ban does not apply to any player who already has at least one day of major league service. In addition, several cities have banned the use of smokeless tobacco in ballparks, including Boston; Chicago; Los Angeles; New York; San Francisco; and Washington, D.C. The Milwaukee City Council approved a ban last week.
In the minor leagues, where players are not unionized, smokeless tobacco has been banned since 1993.
As part of the 2012-16 labor agreement, the union agreed that players may not carry tobacco packages and tins in their back pockets when fans are permitted in the ballpark, and players may not use tobacco during pregame or postgame interviews, and at team functions.
This move feels like it’s been a long time coming. Last season, several cities banned the use of smokeless tobacco at sporting events, forcing players to give up chew during series in certain stadiums. Though some players were surely unhappy about that, they seemed to get by just fine.
It helps that baseball has seen up close what chew can do. Banning smokeless tobacco has gained momentum in recent years since Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn died at age 54 of cancer that he attributed to his tobacco habit.
Tobacco is baked into baseball culture all the way down to the high school level, and banning it in MLB should diminish the extent to which it’s viewed as just part of the game. Hopefully if kids don’t see see professionals on television with dip in their jaws, they won’t grow up and feel like chewing is a necessary component of playing baseball.
Just about everyone agrees that chewing tobacco is a gross and dangerous habit. Getting it away from baseball is a commendable objective.