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. Kenny

    Dick Durbin needs to be removed from office in 2012. With all the issues going on in this country and in the state of Illinois, he chooses this one to grandstand on. Someone with such poor lack of judgement should not be representing the people. I only wish I had more than one vote.

    October 19, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • RM

      Why do these idiot senators keep sticking their noses into the private sector? Clean up congress, clean up your own house before you start to complain about others. There are a thousand other issues more important than this. don't you have something better to do than to use the world series as a stage? That is what is wrong with this country, VOTE THEM ALL OUT! TERM LIMITS PLEASE!

      October 19, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  2. brad

    Senators you need to step it up....who are you to ban chewing

    October 19, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Dan

    CAN WE HAVE TERM LIMITS PLEASE!!!!!

    October 19, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kyle

      Amen. 8 years for House and 12 years for Senators, that's my proposal

      October 19, 2011 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Mahmod

    This is a good thing to do. I chew but it shouldnt be involved in a public stage, encouraging kids to do it.

    October 19, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • concerned vet

      Who's encouraging? You see them going on speaking tours? Are they targeting TV and radio ads at 9 year-olds and I haven't heard? How about parents step up and get involved in their kids lives? Those are the most important role models.

      October 19, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • jakinthbox44

      who are you to tell someone not to chew when you do it yourself?!

      October 19, 2011 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • DogBite

      I chew too but think I know when is the right time and the wrong time. Common sense kind of thing

      October 19, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Rod in Texas

    There is nothing more disgusting than to be watching the game and the camera does a close up only to see these players spit out the huge disgusting black spit. What are these so called "hero's" teaching little boys who are idolizing these players? It should be banned. Not only is it unhealthly but it's really nasty.

    October 19, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Dude

      You know what's even more discusting? Going to a car accident where a car full of children (teenagers) are laying all bloody and cut open and even dead. Why don't we ban teenagers from driving?

      October 19, 2011 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • basketcase

      @The Dude
      We don't ban teenagers from driving because it serves a purpose (getting from point A to point B). Chewing tobacco has no such purpose. Your comparison sucks.

      October 19, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rod in Texas

      I would actually love to ban teenagers from driving!

      October 19, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rod in Texas

      My comparison? When did I give a comparison. I never said chewing tobacco is like........ I just said it teaches little boys the wrong message. You can go to any little league game in the country and look out on the field and you will see the boys spitting. Sure, they are only spitting saliva at this time, but they are still learning to spit.

      October 19, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rod in Texas

      Sorry Basketcase! I thought TheDude was giving me issues. Didn't see your name there.

      October 19, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Shelby A. Norris

    If they're going to take tobacco products out of the dugouts.. then remove the smoking sections around hospitals.

    October 19, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
  7. B-rad

    Is it really the governments job to tell us what to eat, drink, smoke, wear, think...ect. Watching a sporting event (especially a nationally televised one) has become 50% sport, 50% "public awareness". It's annoying and takes away from the game. Watch sports from Europe, they don't waste time talking about the armed services, public health messages ect..,. People watch sports to forget their crummy lives, not to be lectured to. Half the time I watch the game with the volume so low I can't hear what they're saying.

    October 19, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • RM

      Really? Can I think for myself and for my family? Or do I need some idiot senator telling me what to consume and not consume? Get off of your self righteous pedastal and FIX the ECONOMY, BALANCE the BUDGET, and STAY out of our PERSONAL LIVES!

      October 19, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • RM

      Really? Can I think for myself and for my family? Or do I need some idiot senator telling me what to consume and not consume? Get off of your self righteous pedastal and FIX the ECONOMY, BALANCE the BUDGET, and STAY out of our PERSONAL LIVES!

      October 19, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Mike

    Yep, that would make for some World Series... A bunch of guys withdrawing from tobacco. It is addictive you know. I am all for ridding baseball of this, but the timing is ridiculous and it shows insincerity to even bring it up as something that would really be done. Good grief.

    October 19, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rod in Texas

      So you're saying that can't go 3 hours while playing without a dip?

      October 19, 2011 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  9. The Dude

    OH WON'T SOMEONE PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!!!!

    October 19, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  10. TheEducationalGeek

    Another attempt at old farty government officials trying to tell people what they can and can't do. Fix the country's debt problem you morons.

    October 19, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Dennis

    I hate to sound political, but this is being pushed by Richard Durbin from Illinois and several other so-called "liberals". Just like a liberal to want to take away our liberties. There must be some sort of kick-back for them.

    October 19, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  12. knucklehead

    Too bad they don't worry more about the example they are setting...

    Let them chew tobacco if they want. Mind your own d@mn business. Be your own d@mn hero. What we need to teach our kids is that these guys are nothing but human beings, prone to bad habits and as fallible as anyone else. The fact that they are good athletes is no reason to lionize them. We're becoming a nation of pu$$ies.

    October 19, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Dude

      Well said!!!

      October 19, 2011 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  13. jas

    Get over yourselves, last time I checked all major leagures are over 18 and it is a legal substance, not posing a health hazard on anyone else therefore it is totaly legal, and these lawmakers have no leg to stand on to make it illegal just for ball players. Make snuff and chewing tobaco illegal, or stop wineing.

    October 19, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  14. SpittingImage

    Well now, lots of venomous remarks about getting government out of those (overpaid crot ch scratching) players' lives.
    Sure.
    Leave the government ALSO out when it comes to reproductive choice, who people choose to have in their bedrooms, who wants to marry whom, if and where someone goes to worship. And, no more forced auto insurance, yeiiihhhh!

    October 19, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Dude

      This all sounds good to me except for the auto insurance, apparently you have never been hit my a mexican without insurance, I have twice and the county atty never went after them, If it had been me without insurance I would have been fined and would have to go to the county clerks office every month to show proof in insurance.

      October 19, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
  15. knucklehead

    I'm more concerned about the ads my kids see watching the game than the guys chewing tobacco. I remember a few years back watching the Series, introducing my kids to the Great American Pastime when a commercial for none other than "Temptation Island" comes on and before I can find the remote a tongue wrestling contest has already begun....

    October 19, 2011 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
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