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. bdzj

    I agree that it should stop, but you cannot change the routines of the ballplayers during the World Series!

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

      ABSOLUTELY correct. Most of these players wont' even wash their socks mid-playoffs. You can't ask them to stop chewing tobacco now.

      October 19, 2011 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Millie

    Isn't this a no brainer – what other sport do you watch players use tobacco on the sidelines or while playing... aren't they supposed to be athletes?

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

      Sorry Millie but you will find chew in most of the major sports except basketball. Hockey players put the chew between their toes because they cannot spit on the ice and I've seen football players chewing on the sidelines. You cannot ban adults from making a choice if they want to chew or not. Focus on government if your senator not professional sports

      October 19, 2011 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Wake up America

    America home of the free.... HA.

    October 19, 2011 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Tea Party Exress

    Down with Taxes!
    Hooray for 2$ Gas!
    Pray Away the Tobacco!
    GO CUBS!

    Bachmann 2012!

    October 19, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ron

      This so called "Goverment" keeps sending the same message to "the hands that feed them". You are an idiot and we know what is better for your children than you do!

      October 19, 2011 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  5. r rega

    Is this the work that senators think they need to focus on...please...jobs...economy...not a fan of ban.

    October 19, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Julio

      TOTALLY AGREE....JOBS, ECONOMY JOBSBSBSBSBSB

      October 19, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Matt

    Does this mean that movies should stop showing actors smoking as well because kids look up to them as well

    October 19, 2011 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Adam

      Yup and no images of people eating anything that isn't deemed, "healthy".

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

      This has already happened, our dear leaders passed a law that any movie showing smoking automatically gets an R rating. The childrens movie Rango almost got this rating because it had a lizard smoking a cigar.

      October 19, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Quatre

      Actually there is one movie I know of with Johnny Depp, called The Tourist. It did contain smoking but Johnny Depp's character was smoking one of those e-cigarettes instead of real tobacco.

      October 19, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Steven

    I want my ball players to be ball players, not Disney mascots.

    October 19, 2011 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Adam

    I can't imagine how ignorant people must be to want to allow a bureaucrat to decide what others can and can't do. You don't desearve your freedom you stupid sheep. You should be hearded back into the barn and away from the polls. What part of, "free country" don't you understand?

    October 19, 2011 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Baby Boomer

      I'm right with you Adam. What is the matter with people today, go live you life and leave traditions alone damn senators and all you others trying to run other peoples lives. MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS!

      October 19, 2011 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • YES

      A...FUGGIN...MEN!!!!!

      October 19, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
  9. CommonSense

    Typical modern American BS, where false statements are presented as facts.

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

    1) This statement is so ridiculous it childish. There is no physical connection between the player on TV and any of your children. They endanger no one. Your children are NOT endangered by an image on TV. Why not turn off the TV every time a gun is shown in some stupid action movie. Oh, Murder is fine? Chewing some nasty substance isn't.

    2) Their health is their own concern. They MAY endanger their health, or not. But, you are not concerned about their health, you dislike their behavior. Are you everyone's mommy?? F-off.

    Those players are not role models. Neither are the hateful, greedy corporate CEOs. Teach your own kids how to behave. It's your responsibility, not ours.

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

      Agree-this is ridiculous. It would be more effective if all parents were banned from using chewing tabacco, or smoking, or doing anything that would send the wrong message to their children. Why not start with those who are really responsible? These guys are playing a sport, not babysitting America.

      October 19, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Ron

    Worry about the economy and the fact that you keep dipping into the tax payers pockets to pay for your CORRUPTION!!
    Funny, no word on banning those super cool beer commercials, must be contributors to your corruption!!!!

    October 19, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Michael paul

    Well then, why not ban all parents from smoking, drinking, or chewing tabacco? That would be a stronger message to children if it was banned from their own household.

    October 19, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Spidey-Man

    Why are Senators worried about this. They have way more imprtant things to be worrying about. Mind your own business and get back to work. If you ever get started...

    Now on the other hand. My opinion... I totally agree that chewing tobacco should not be on the field. Fans can't smoke in the stands. I don't know about chewing tobacco in the stands. Which is another kind of smoking.

    October 19, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Steve

    I don't like players with beards. Every player should be clean shaven. Also tattoos should be covered up. They send the wrong message.

    October 19, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Abe Simpson

    Back in my day, ball players didn't have to be all sissy like and chew tobacco, we chewed tar, which in those days was called Black Chew. We'd chew it all night and all day while we fought off the Mexicans during the Great War. And that's why we have Columbus Day!

    October 19, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
  15. atroy

    They should also ban the use of beer by the fans.....that's another nasty habit that cause way more social and health problems than tobacco.

    October 19, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
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