WHAT OTHERS SAY: Nation turns its lonely eyes to MLB tobacco chewers

Monday, October 24, 2011 | 3:08 p.m. CDT

With all of the nation's other problems solved and the U.S. Senate functioning like a Swiss watch, four Democratic U.S. senators have turned their attention to the critical problem of major baseball players who chew or dip tobacco.

"When players use smokeless tobacco, they endanger not only their own health, but also the health of millions of children who follow their example," Sens. Dick Durbin of Illinois, Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Tom Harkin of Iowa wrote this week in a letter to the Major League Players Association.

Major League Baseball wants to ban the products, which used to be available free in big-league clubhouses. But the players union thinks it is a matter of individual choice.

Health officials say that using smokeless tobacco can be dangerous. Anyone who remembers the 1982 World Series, when Whitey Herzog of the Cardinals and Harvey Kuenn of the Milwaukee Brewers set the all-time record for Most Televised Shots of Spitting Managers, will agree that watching it can be disturbing.

But is this really a matter for senatorial attention? Fix the deficit, guys, and campaign finance. Then we'll talk.

Copyright St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Reprinted with permission.

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