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Weiner said that players aren’t running from the idea that kids see them as role models.

“Prominent players have agreed to go out there and talk,” he said. “But maybe the message that’s being sent by the combination of things here is a realistic one: When kids grow up they’re going to have choices to make, just like players have choices.”

A coalition including the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Cancer Society and the American Medical Association had been pushing for a tobacco ban since last year. Baseball commissioner Bud Selig endorsed it at the start of the 2011 season.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says smokeless tobacco can cause cancer, oral health problems and nicotine addiction, and stresses it is not a safe alternative to smoking. Despite the risks, the CDC’s most recent survey found that in 2009, 15 percent of high school boys used smokeless tobacco _ a more than one-third increase over 2003.

In the minor leagues, where players are not unionized, smokeless tobacco has been banned since 1993.


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