Three United Methodist organizations are among 25 faith groups calling for the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) to agree to Commissioner Bud Selig’s proposed prohibition on tobacco use at games. The faith leaders join a growing coalition of medical groups, public health officials and fans urging baseball to prohibit smokeless tobacco use in the contract that is to take effect next year.
Jim Winkler, chief executive of the General Board of Church & Society, Gil Hanke, top officer of United Methodist Men, and Julie Taylor, chair of United Methodist Women’s Children, Youth & Family Advocacy, have signed a letter directed to Michael Weiner, MLBPA executive director. Winkler also serves as chair of Faith United Against Tobacco.
Other faith traditions represented in the letter include Baptists, Jews, Seventh-day Adventists, Muslims, Lutherans and Presbyterians. The leaders point out that smokeless tobacco use among high school boys has risen 36 percent since 2003, and said big league ballplayers have a responsibility to be better role models for young fans.
Smokeless tobacco use causes oral cancer, gum disease, tooth decay and mouth lesions. Its use by young people also may serve as a gateway to cigarette smoking, the nation’s number one cause of preventable death.
United Methodists have been committed to tobacco prevention advocacy for many years, according to the Rev. Cynthia Abrams, who directs GBCS’s Alcohol, Other Addictions & Health Care work area.
“United Methodists have advocated for stricter regulation, including Food & Drug Administration regulation of tobacco, state and local smoke free ordinances, and raising tobacco taxes in many states,” she said.
For more information on the smokeless tobacco campaign, visit www.tobaccofreebaseball.org.
- Hit a Home Run for Healthy Kids: Banish Chewing Tobacco from the Major Leagues (news.change.org)
- I thought that I could not be hurt – part 2 (barefootpreachr.org)