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Durbin to MLB: Ban smokeless tobacco

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM

Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin has urged Major League Baseball to ban smokeless tobacco use on the field, in the dugout and in the locker room.

In a letter to MLB Commissioner Bud Selig and the MLB Players Association, Durbin and fellow Democrat Sen. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey say “use of smokeless tobacco by baseball players undermines the positive image of the sport and sends a dangerous message to young fans.”

Twenty-eight years ago MLB ended tobacco use in its minor leagues “and it is time to extend that policy throughout MLB’s venues and events,” they say.

The senators cite a National Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that the use of smokeless tobacco products has increased by 36 percent among high school boys since ’03.

Smokeless tobacco causes cancers of the stomach, larynx, esophagus, oral cancer — which can require disfiguring surgery — and pancreatic cancer, one of the deadliest forms of cancers. It’s linked to cardiovascular and gum disease, tooth decay and mouth lesions.

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