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. Rob

    Hey Joe adjust this...your thinking.. pratice this at home it will help you raise your young.
    However the thread addresses who is my daddy and it is not the goverment. So lets ban everthing that that makes you uncomfortable and live under a rock and let people with power tell you when to come out. Childrens heroes start at home, only a lack of role model at home gets them thinking the grass is greener.

    October 19, 2011 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Lynda

    IImagine if you will, that one of these ball players, while chewing, turn and spit on you. Yuck! Now imagine if you will, that a toddler sees this chewing stuff, and gets ahold of it and chews it. Extreme Yuck! This is a disgusting habit, and should be banned from all sports!

    October 19, 2011 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • DogBite

      Your are clueless, if you will

      October 19, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • glyder

      imagine that while i was chewing tobacco you just HAD to tell me what you think.now imagine me telling you to go to hell and mind your own business.

      October 19, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Greg

    No really, the Senators are requesting this? You mean the ones that play the Harlem Globe Trotters right? BECAUSE NO F...ING WAY THEY ARE CONCERNED ABOUT THIS WHEN THEY HAVE THEIR HEADS SO FAR UP THEIR NETHER REGIONS THAT CANNOT LEGISLATE ANYTHING!!!!!!

    October 19, 2011 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Matt

    This is turning into a reality show....Senators desperate for attention and TV time will do anything.

    I'm in favor of these efforts but only if i can get a guarantee that if we stop the chewing, they will stop the screwing.

    October 19, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Flint Rock

    Give baseball some time to clean up its act. If it doesn't, pass a law. If you don't like a law, then lets encourage
    all workers to openly expectorate on the floor in the workplace.

    October 19, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
  6. George Kirchmann

    Good. It's time to get tobacco out of baseball. While he's at it, the Commissioner should tell the players to stop spitting and dropping cups all over the dugout. Dugouts are disgusting and give the game a very bad image.

    October 19, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • DogBite

      I like how you think. Too bad this part of the tread is way past this point and silent.

      October 19, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Pete

    Let the eat pot brownies in the dugout. Anything to make this boring game more fun.

    October 19, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • DogBite

      I like the way you think

      October 19, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jody

    Good thing the Brewers didn't make it then lol ...what next beer drinking? unreal!

    October 19, 2011 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
  9. db

    Ban it from the white house first.

    October 19, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Tim

    How about banning Viagra ads before 10pm. Nothing like watching a baseball game at 8pm with my kids and hearing about erections that last for more than 4 hours.

    October 19, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Gudone

    Stupid game ...one does'nt have to atch it .

    October 19, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Gudone

    Stupid game ...one does'nt have to watch it .

    October 19, 2011 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Drew

    so after 170 or so games by each team they want the players to stop something they've been doing as part of a ritual for probably years? ever think they use to buzz to help concentrate and all of a sudden going cold during the biggest games of their lives would be a bad idea?

    October 19, 2011 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Steve in Columbus

    If they don't like it so much, and it's so harmful, why not outlaw it? Oh wait, that's because Big Tobacco helps fund their reelection campaigns.....

    October 19, 2011 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
  15. gayman

    i think that the players should be able to use tabaco mainly because its like making sombody quit smoking and that takes time to do same with tabaco.

    October 19, 2011 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
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