I have some game-changing news to share with you. Today, Major League Baseball (MLB) and the players’ union announced new restrictions on the use of tobacco products on and off the field, starting with the 2012 season. While this isn't everything we had hoped for, it is an important (and historic) step in the right direction. In fact, today's announcement is the first time smokeless tobacco use has ever been addressed in professional baseball!
Let's take a look at what will be in the new 5-year contract (with my notes following in brackets):1. Players can no longer bring tobacco products onto the field, in their pockets or on their person. [No more can in the back pocket. No more camera shots of players popping a wad in their mouth in the dugout. Helps remove some of the imagery that gives kids the impression that tobacco is cool and athletic.] 2. Players can longer use tobacco products during televised interviews, during autograph signings, or at any event where fans will be present. [While not perfect, this along with the 1st rule above will help to minimize young fans seeing their heroes using tobacco on TV and at events.]3. Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) will partner with The Partnership at drugfree.org on a national public service announcement campaign that will feature notable players. [Education paired with role models - a win, win. Hopefully the other players will catch on and set the right example on the field.]4. MLBPA will create a Tobacco Cessation Center for the players, providing resources and assistance to educate players and help them quit. Players will also now receive oral cancer screenings as part of their annual physicals. [We've always noted that this campaign is about both the players' health and the heath of their young fans. Making sure players have the support they need is critical.]This is so much more than we had yesterday and none of it would have happened if not for the thousands of supporters behind the Knock Tobacco Out of the Park campaign. Let's hope that this is just the first step towards a complete and total prohibition on tobacco at games and on camera. Please help us celebrate by thanking Commissioner Bud Selig and MLBPA Executive Director Michael Weiner. It took courage for Commissioner Selig to stand up for tobacco-free baseball on opening day this year and it took true leadership by Mr. Weiner to bring these new restrictions across home plate.
Thank you for your partnership on this historic campaign,
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