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Anti-Smoking Crusaders Add MLB to Hit List

Re-energized by Rango‘s top spot at the box office, anti-smoking organizations this week reiterated their call to slap automatic R-ratings on movies that feature tobacco use — even when those users are cigar-chompin’, gun-shootin’, cowboy-hat-wearin’ gila monsters.

But the anti-smoking crusade isn’t limited to the multiplex. Last week, Rango-rivals the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Legacy Foundation, and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids partnered, along with seven other health-focused organizations, to target the dusty varmints of baseball.

The Knock Tobacco Out of the Park campaign urges everyone involved with Major League Baseball — players, managers, coaches and staff – to ban smokeless tobacco in the field and dugout. (Cigarette smoking is already against MLB rules.)

The campaign centers around a newly launched web site, TobaccoFreeBaseball.org, on which fans can post support messages, find out about the toll “dipping” has taken on baseball’s heroes, share information via Twitter and Facebook, get involved in ballpark activism, and petition MLB Commissioner Bud Selig for changes in 2012 contracts.

Dipping has long been a part of MLB culture, and may not be easy to ban. But the MLB is definitely paying attention.

Like the campaign contends, not only does tobacco use by Major Leaguers set “a terrible example for the millions of young people who watch baseball at the ballparks,” it’s not very healthy for the Major Leaguers, either.

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