Senators push for tobacco ban on players during World Series
San Francisco Giants player Mark DeRosa takes a pinch of smokeless tobacco during warmups.
October 19th, 2011
10:09 AM ET

Senators push for tobacco ban on players during World Series

A group of senators is urging Major League Baseball to use the World Series as a chance to step up and change a fairly recognizable scene at baseball stadiums: a group of players in the dugout chomping on chew and spitting tobacco juice.

Not only is it unhealthy, the senators said, but it sends the wrong message to children who look up to the players.

Baseball's smokeless tobacco problem

"An expected 15 million viewers, including many children, will tune in to watch the first game of the series," Sen. Dick Durbin and other senators said in a letter to the executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association. "Unfortunately, as these young fans root for their favorite team and players, they also will watch their on-field heroes use smokeless tobacco products."

It's a scene that's caught often on TV, as a camera pans the field during batting practice or the dugout during the game: Some players chew gum, others spit out sunflower seed shells, and others spit out tobacco juice. With the first game of the World Series set for Wednesday night, the senators are trying to use that national platform to urge players to opt for the sunflower seeds rather than the tobacco.

Sens. Durbin, Frank Lautenberg, Richard Blumenthal and Tom Harkin, who is the Senate Health Committee chairman, said the World Series is such a big stage that it would be a good opportunity to right a wrong as well as set a good example.

The senators cited the 2009 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which showed a 36% increase in use of smokeless tobacco products among boys in high school since 2003. The survey also showed that 15% of high school boys now use the products.

"When players use smokeless tobacco, they endanger not only their own health, but also the health of millions of children who follow their example," they said in a letter.

Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, echoed that sentiment wholeheartedly.

“Major League Baseball and the players union should follow the senators’ leadership and get smokeless tobacco out of the game,” Myers said in a press release.  “The calls for tobacco-free baseball have come from hundreds of diverse voices that have grown louder over the course of the 2011 season. Now it is time for baseball to act to protect the health of current players and millions of kids who look up to them.”

The senators had earlier in the year petitioned MLB Commissioner Bud Selig to ban tobacco in the major leagues, as the minor leagues already have.

"It is time for the players to take the lead and support extending this policy throughout MLB," the senators wrote.

Selig has said that he intends to propose the ban as a part of the players' new contracts next year.

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Filed under: Baseball • Sports
soundoff (842 Responses)
  1. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    The World Series is for the World Series, not for the setting of examples.

    October 19, 2011 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Senators Suck!!!

      Or for the government to stick their nose in. The government can't handle their own agendas and problems. Now they want to worry about something as trivial as this?

      What a joke! For those of you that live where these senators live. I hope you have some common sense and vote these idiots out....no matter what party they are for. Its PATHETIC that these clowns are the people we elected to work for US!!!

      October 19, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Montgomery Burns

      Excellent!

      October 19, 2011 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chuck

      Mr. Senators Suck!!! is exactly correct.

      October 19, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jesus H. Christ

      CUBS SUCK

      October 19, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  2. 11BravoPapa

    This is so disgusting that it makes me sick. A group of senators which probably have never played sports in their lives are trying to tell professional athletes what to do. If you guys want to get together, get together and do something usefull like balance the budget. Shut up and do your jobs for once. Pathetic

    October 19, 2011 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
    • sc415

      And 50+ year old men are telling women what they can and cannot do to their bodies (ie planned parenthood funding, abortions etc). Governments around the country are telling teachers what they should be paid and their rights in a classroom, those state government officials probably haven't been in a classroom since they were in school. Welcome to America, the land were laws are created by people who have absolutely no clue who/how it will affect the end user.

      October 19, 2011 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Chuck

      " If you guys want to get together, get together and do something usefull like balance the budget. Shut up and do your jobs for once. Pathetic." Mr. 11BravoPapa is exactly correct.

      October 19, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
  3. banasy©

    Thank you, JIF!
    I should think the Senators could possibly focus their attention to other areas that need fixing...and no, I'm not talking about the concussion helmet 'controversy' either.

    October 19, 2011 at 10:38 am | Report abuse |
  4. banasy©

    11BravoPapa: Agreed.

    October 19, 2011 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
  5. Kerry

    For the most part the players do appear very oral. Their mouths are always going. It will be nice not seeing them spitting at us via the camera. Thank you.

    October 19, 2011 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Senators Suck!!!

      You're an idiot!

      October 19, 2011 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chuck

      For the most part our Senators do appear very oral. Their mouths are always going. It will be nice not seeing them spitting at us via the camera.

      October 19, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Portland Tony

    This country has some problems.......but one of them is not a few professional baseball players using smokeless tobacco. Maybe those Senators could find some jobs for folks instead of shooting their mouth off about sports they know nothing about ....like most players are chewing gum!

    October 19, 2011 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Chuck

      "This country has some problems.......but one of them is not a few professional baseball players using smokeless tobacco. Maybe those Senators could find some jobs for folks instead of shooting their mouth off about sports they know nothing about..." Mr. Tony is entirely correct.

      October 19, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  7. BetseyP

    These guys all make lots of money and they can't get thru a 3 hour game without eating or using. What a bunch of babies!

    October 19, 2011 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Dagget

      They're babies because they chew on some tobacco? What does how much money they make have to do with anything?

      October 19, 2011 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • John in NY

      They are are babies but your the one bent out of shape because they choose to use chewing tobacco?

      October 19, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Bob F.

    I am an ex-smoker who now can't stand the smell of tobacco smoke in any form. I chewed briefly while I was playing (ironically) semi-pro baseball in the late 1960s. After two or three chaws, I could not understand how anybody could stomach the stuff. My wife and I pick restaurants with a no-tobacco of any kind policy. Yet I think this action by the senators is reprehensible. As another poster here said, the world series is for baseball, not some political stance. If the players want to ruin themselves, it's their business. It's up to parents to educate their children on the evils of tobacco. Note to government: leave the ball players alone.

    October 19, 2011 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
  9. Bob F.

    One other comment, please. To the senators: if you were half as professional and half as good at your job as these ballplayers are, you would realize that you should keep your hands off. They don't try to play baseball on the floor of the Senate; you shouldn't try to play senator on the baseball field.

    October 19, 2011 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Senators Suck!!!

      Hell the baseball players would probably do a better job at running the country that these pathetic senators. They couldn't do any worse that is for sure!

      October 19, 2011 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chuck

      Mr. Bob F. is entirely correct.

      October 19, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jim

    Why are a bunch of idiot senators always trying to shove what they think is right or wrong down our throats. This is none of their business!!

    October 19, 2011 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
  11. ScoMan

    Thank you Senators for looking out for the health and well being of our children, however WHERE ARE THE JOBS? WHAT ABOUT HEALTHCARE FOR ALL? Stop worrying about virtually meaningless things and get to things that truly affect this country.

    October 19, 2011 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
  12. Julnor

    I'm a non-tobacco user. The senators should keep their mouths shut and focus on their jobs.

    October 19, 2011 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
  13. BPThompson

    The fact that Senators are making this a priority with all the other things wrong in this country is absurd. Also, considering all the brilliant Doctors, selfless Fire Fighters and Law Enforcement, genius Scientists, and brave Military members in this country.. if your kids' hero is a freakin baseball player, then I think you have larger problems.

    October 19, 2011 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
  14. C

    just another example of the few trying to regulate the many, sad there are so few freedoms left

    October 19, 2011 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Smokedrift

      Senators are free to do whatever they want, as long as they don't do it on television.

      October 19, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chuck

      Mr. Smokedrift says, "Senators are free to do whatever they want, as long as they don't do it on television."

      Oh, but they do do it on television. And our children may very well tune in and see them bickering and fighting. They're not setting a good rolemodel for our children.

      October 19, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jim

    Here's your message to America's youth, the country is in such good shape we have time for extra curricular activities!
    It's the world series, not a chance for you elected idiots to spout off on something that doesn't concern you. So just shut up about it already. Are you so managed by your staff's you can't see how ridiculous your ham handed photo ops look?

    October 19, 2011 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Chuck

      Mr. Jim is entirely correct.

      October 19, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
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