League Officials Try to Strike out Chewing Tobacco

Article excerpt

AT some point, spitting tobacco became linked with the mystique of baseball. Now, baseball officials from the major leagues to the Little League are trying to sever that relationship.

Last year, then-baseball commissioner Fay Vincent ordered a ban on the use of smokeless tobacco on the field in the Rookie League and the Single A League. "The goal is to end the use through attrition, but if it needs to be expanded and moved up, we may look at it," says Jim Small, a spokesman for the major leagues.

Anti-smokeless-tobacco advocates are also trying to reach Little Leaguers, since most users begin using such tobacco products between the ages of 11 and 13.

In February, Little League Baseball, along with health organizations, sent brochures aimed at youths in 26 states.

"It's our job to help them understand that using spitting tobacco is not `cool' but it's just plain dumb," wrote Creighton Hale, the president of the Little League in a letter to each local league secretary.

In order to make a real impact, however, the anti-tobacco advocates realize they need to get major league players to quit. …