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. Beowoofwoof

    Next they will try tho ban the high inside pitch.

    October 19, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  2. rich

    Are you kidding me?!? With all the country's real problems, we have U.S. Senators focusing on tobacco chewing in the World Series? Completely ridiculous!

    October 19, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  3. jack johnson

    If they keep baning peoples rights, the next thing that will happen is cops will be looking in your house to see what books you read, what you eat, and when you go to the bath room. They will tell you when and what church you have to go too. WORRY ABOUT THE JOBS, NOT PEOPLES RIGHTS!!!!!!

    October 19, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  4. The Dugout

    Chewing tobacco is gross and terrible for you. BUT, these men that play ball have a right to do what they want. It is their choice and their body. These men did not ask to become role-models, so do not treat them as such. Why does everyone need a law to do a parent's job? Educate your children on topic, or give them up for adoption if you do not know how to do your job as a parent.

    October 19, 2011 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Karen Sjet

    Every man, woman, and child knows tobacco is bad for them. It's a choice, and probably the most disgusting one of the bunch. But hey, I smoke, and it's a damned choice. They've been chewing for decades. They're not going to stop now.

    October 19, 2011 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
  6. ellerbro

    Tobacco has been part of the game for over 100 years. Our great country was built on tobacco. If you don't like it, don't use tobacco. If you think it's disgusting to see, don't watch baseball games. Rocket science, yes.

    excellent post Nicolle.. I mean US Government.

    October 19, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Baseball player, baseball fan, and not a parent.

      Agreed

      October 19, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Corey

    As a left leaning independant I think these senators have better and more important things to worry about then major league players chewing. We live in a free country and if people want to partake in things that are unhealthy it's their choice. I just wish they were my senators so I could vote them out. Sad to say I'm with Republicans on this issue.

    October 19, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Albro

    I've got a better idea: Why dont we educate Americans in the concept that these are just professional "game-players". They are not the sportsmanship role-models of the past. They are people who receive more money in one year for 'playing', than most of their devoted adoring fans make in a LIFETIME. They are not demi-gods, they are not role-models and we dont HAVE to buy a certain beer or shaving cream just because they say to. Perhaps it's time we all started to think for ourselves, instead of using these people as our surrogate brains.

    October 19, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Baseball player, baseball fan, and not a parent.

    Chaw, chewing tobacco is an option for these players. It helps many of them concentrate on the game. I never tried it or endorsed it; and always told my fellow teammates its gross. But it's their bodies and their health. They know the risk.
    And the kids who aren't 18 can't even get this stuff, and if they do they'll most likley throw up anyways. They're warning lables for a reason. At the age of 18 that kid has the right to chew or not. You guys complain about tobaccoo but look at all the beer advertising. Beer is a drug as well and its not good for you. But i guess you all are ok with your kids drinking alcohol instead of smoking.
    How about all you complainers don't have children until your ready to raise your children.

    October 19, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  10. horrible waste of time

    its so stupid how many people are against this. I watch baseball all year and im part of a deep fantasy league, so I have to keep up with many games/teams. chewing tobacco is a part of baseball culture. people are tryin to get rid of a piece of american history because they think its gross? Do you really see chewing tobacco on TV so often where it affects the viewer? Hell no, and thinking that it goes to the point where people are disgusted just shows how fearful people are of desensitizing. Such a waste of senator's time and tax dollars. No wonder america is going down hill. we have idiots arguing over nothing. And this is an example of nothing.

    October 19, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  11. answerman28

    Just ban the world series.. problem solved, Money better spent, bad influence gone, billions saved. yaaaaay.

    October 19, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
  12. jboHDrider

    Dear Mr Government,
    Please take away all freedoms and make everyone into little sheep doing exactly what you want. It's way past time to mandate that motorcycles are too dangerous and should be banned. All cars should have roll cages and everyone in the car must be wearing afire retardant suit.
    Please teach our kids how to be safe, continue to feel us up and/or radiate us at all airports. Please continue to carry out unconstiutional warrentless wire taps and finally just make us sit in our houses and send drones by with our food and all of the goods that you alone approve for us.
    All I am asking is that you take away all freedoms and keep us safe from all dangers forever...Amen!

    October 19, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Phyllis

    I can honestly say that watching a man chew tobacco is the most disgusting thing I have ever seen. Have these men ever watched themselves on screen, had someone tell them how bad they smell, or do they have no pride whatsoever in themselves? As a woman who has been in this world for awhile, they are a real turnoff. Do they care how ugly they look when they chew and spit? UUgghh!

    October 19, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • charmander

      i think they're more worried about winning the world series

      October 19, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  14. George

    Leave them alone, let them play ball. It's the responsibility of parents to teach kids what behaviors to model, not Senators.

    October 19, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Ralphie

    How about he Economy. How about worring about that, or something that matters. You f*%kin idiots. No wonder our country is struggling with it's real problems.

    October 19, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
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