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SmilesLEAGUE All-Stars Staying Smoke-Free

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Members of the 2012 Delta Dental Smiles League high school baseball all-stars attend a news conference outside Busch Stadium on June 3, 2012. (KMOX/Brad Choat)

Members of the 2012 Delta Dental Smiles League high school baseball all-stars attend a news conference outside Busch Stadium on June 3, 2012. (KMOX/Brad Choat)

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ST. LOUIS (KMOX)- The students selected to be in the second annual SmilesLEAGUE Coaches’ Choice High School Seniors All-Star baseball game have signed a tobacco-free pledge, agreeing to advocate no-smoking and no-chewing lifestyle choices.

Representatives of Delta Dental of Missouri and the St. Louis Cardinals organization gathered Sunday outside of Busch Stadium to announe details of the second annual SmilesLEAGUE Coaches’ Choice High School Seniors All-Star baseball game. The game will be played on Saturday, June 16, following the 1:15 p.m. St. Louis Cardinals vs. Kansas City Royals baseball game.

The all-star lineup includes 34 high school seniors from St. Louis City and County public high schools who were pre-selected by their school’s coaching staff. The seniors will be coached by Cardinals alumni players Scott Cooper and Kerry Robinson, both of whom are serving in this capacity for the second year in a row.

Admission to the game is free and gates will open after the conclusion of the Cardinals game. A Homerun Derby is set for 4 p.m., depending on the Cardinals game, followed by the first pitch. Players from the participating St. Louis City and County public high schools were randomly combined to form the “All-Star Blue Team” and the “All-Star Green Team.”

In addition to revealing all the details for the big matchup, representatives of Delta Dental announced the launch of its new oral health initiative designed to help create a tobacco-free generation of healthy kids.

Each SmilesLEAGUE All-Star signed a tobacco-free pledge, acknowledging that they do not smoke or chew and outlining their willingness to advocate no-smoking and no-chewing lifestlye choices among Missouri’s youth.

According to Rich Klassen, chief marketing and sales director of Delta Dental in St. Louis, St. Louis native and Cardinals standout David Freese is the spokesperson for this campaign.

“We are partnering with the Cardinals and David Freese on a tobacco-free campaign,” Klassen says. “Every one of these players has signed a pledge that they are tobacco-free.”

Klassen says in Missouri, there’s a significant number of children who have taken up and are smoking tobacco.

“It’s upwards of 20 percent,” Klassen says. “We know that if we can keep kids off tobacco by the time they turn 18, they’ll be much less likely to take it up after that.”

As part of the all-star game, Delta Dental is also having a fundraising component to benefit the Cardinals Care, Give Kids A Smile, and Delta Dental Health Theatre organizations. Raffle tickets are currently available for $2 per ticket (or three tickets for $5) by logging on to www.smilesleague.com. Tickets will also be available to purchase in Busch Stadium during the Cardinals games on June 9, 10, and 15, as well as at the SmilesLEAGUE All-Star game.

According to David Haynes, president and CEO of Delta Dental, they feel socially responsible to help influence and inspire the youth in their community to establish healthy life habits early on.

“Our mission is to improve oral and overall health, and tobacco use is a major driver of poor health,” Haynes says. “The all-star game will raise awareness of these lifestyle choices, and the proceeds will benefit some wonderful organizations that provide oral health education and free services for underserved children.”

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