WASHINGTON, DC (KMOX) – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin says whether they like it or not, professional athletes are role models for kids everywhere.
That’s why the Illinois Democrat says it’s a big problem any time a Major Leaguer is caught on camera spitting out a big stream of tobacco juice.
“I will tell you that the one group of Americans who are using tobacco more than ever are high school boys,” Durbin tells KMOX News. “And when you trace it, it turns out it’s because their sports heroes, those baseball players — one out of three of them — use smokeless or spit tobacco.”
Durbin, along with fellow Democrat Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, are now calling on baseball commissioner Bug Selig to ban tobacco use in the Majors, as it was in the minor leagues decades ago.
In a letter sent to MLB headquarters, Senators Durbin and Lautenberg write, “Tobacco-related products kill 443,000 Americans every year, and each day 1,000 American children and teenagers become new regular smokers.
“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 cancer. The use of smokeless tobacco is also linked to cardiovascular disease, gum disease, tooth decay, and mouth lesions.”
They sent a separate letter to Washington Senators pitching phenom Steven Strasburg, commending him for his public resolution to quit using smokeless tobacco, saying that will send a positive message to America’s youth.
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