Why not let 'em smoke, too?

I'm surprised this took so long:

    The Major League Baseball Players Association is telling Congress that it discourages members from using smokeless tobacco, but players should be allowed to use substances that are legal and available to the general public.

    MLBPA chief labor counsel David Prouty is among the witnesses who submitted written testimony ahead of Wednesday's hearing before a House subcommittee about the use of smokeless tobacco by baseball players.

    Subcommittee chairman Frank Pallone, a New Jersey Democrat, says he wants to know why smokeless tobacco is banned in the minors but allowed in the majors.

    A Harvard professor says research shows about one-third of major leaguers report they use smokeless tobacco, and he says that contributes to use by youth in America.

Yes, Congress presumably has bigger things to worry about, and I'm not ready to advocate legislation banning smokeless tobacco during major league games, even if I do think it's a disgusting habit and might well contribute to unhealthy behavior among the youngsters. And yes, I sometimes tire of nanny-statism.

While we're thinking about this, though, let's ponder this question: Would you support legislation that permitted baseball players to smoke cigarettes in the dugout? I know that's not realistic, so here's another: Do you wish players were still allowed to smoke in the dugout? They used to. And cigarettes remain "legal and available to the general public."

My personal opinion (not that anybody asked) is that if players smoking on the field is a bad idea, then chewing tobacco and spitting brown juice is probably a bad idea, too. The only reason it still happens is because the players don't want to give it up and the owners don't care enough to press them on it.

Like it or not, though, it's just a matter of time. The question is whether you think Congress should be speeding up the process.