Congressman Asks MLB to Ban Smokeless Tobacco

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA-OF COURSE) called on Major League Baseball to ban smokeless tobacco (aka “dip” or “face-eating cancer muck”) during a Congressional hearing on Wednesday. Citing statistics on the amount of free advertising that smokeless tobacco gets via slobbering big league players, Waxman said it should be banned from the game to avoid influencing children.

MLB commisioners basically laughed at Waxman, who forgot that you just can’t arbitrarily force regulations on people, unless of course you’re a politician. From The Hill:

David Prouty, chief labor counsel for the Major League Baseball Players Association, noted the difference between cigarettes and chewing tobacco in a prepared statement: “Cigarettes impact the ability to play the game, are banned from public use under a variety of state and municipal laws, and may endanger the health of those in the immediate area. Baseball players should not be prohibited from using substances that are perfectly legal and available to the general public.”

Robert Manfred, an executive vice president for the MLB, said that banning smokeless tobacco would require negotiations with the players union.

Manfred said, “Like drug testing, the regulation of player use of tobacco products is a mandatory subject of collective bargaining with the players association. Not even the most ardent critics of smokeless tobacco use as a public health matter would argue that it compromises the competitive integrity of the game in a manner analogous to performance-enhancing substances.”

I mean, it’s not like there’s a danger of second-hand chew. Maybe if you use your imagination, but that’s just disgusting.

But why does Waxman feel this an appropriate issue for Congress in the first place? What business is it of the legislative branch of the federal government if baseball players use chewing tobacco? For that matter, what business is it of Congress’ if baseball players take steroids?

You can insert the obligatory “won’t someone think of the children” argument, but baseball has its own governing body. And a quick glance over the Constitutionally enumerated powers of Congress doesn’t turn up anything like: “To make certain the fairness of our sporting bodies and the players thereof, and to ensure their habits are wholesome for the upbringing of the nation’s children.”

Just another in a long line of examples of Congress using its power to engage in irrelevant moral crusading. Because it’s not like there’s massive problems with our criminal justice system, schools or, hey, how about an ineffective and costly drug war?


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