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. Me

    Who. Flocking. Cares. Here's an idea, the PARENTS could point out chewing tobacco is bad for you, and then if the child still does it, I guess that's life. Where is our freedom?

    October 19, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Darthlawsuit

      Chewing tobacco only hurts yourself and no one else. I see no problems here. Should we ban McDonalds because it is bad for people's health.

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

      you asked "Where's our freedom?" - ITS IN YOUR HOUSE - not on public display to 15 million people.

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

      ExExpert- So your saying that those 15 million people HAVE to watch it and HAVE to force their kids to watch it?

      October 19, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • expert

      uh yeah sure, that what I was saying........../lame/

      October 19, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  2. palintwit

    I think they should ban teabaggers, trailer parks and Burt Reynolds movies.

    October 19, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Part of a Percent but not sure which one.

      You leave Mr Reynolds out of this.

      October 19, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Captain Red

    Our Government has major problems, if people want to use chew it is no business of theirs. The Government with taxes has already made a major crime market in selling cigarettes with the price up to $11 a pack in some states the gangs and black market has a big take in all this

    October 19, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  4. James

    I think the should ban senators and congress from speaking, it's bad for our brains. Everytime they open their mouths and we hear them speak we all become a little more stupid and that is bad for the GDP.

    October 19, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  5. NDirish23

    a little advice for our govt officials: attempt to stay a little focused and stop swimming down in the weeds. our country has bigger issues and this is not one of them. get out of every little issue and get to work!

    October 19, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  6. 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 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Brandon

    So, would it be the same if we wanted to stop people from eating fast food in public? Fast food has been proven to be bad for people...

    October 19, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Feast of Beast

    I don't chew, but I work with guys who do and if they are together outside for awhile you can't find a place to stand that isn't covered in chaw juice. AND they leave soda cans around everywhere to spit into. Makes me want to puke. As for baseball, if they are getting paid millions to throw a ball around I think they damn well better do what they are told. Arrogant spoiled jerx.

    October 19, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Part of a Percent but not sure which one.

    Why is it that congress is always investing their time in non-issues?

    October 19, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Ralphie

    Cant believe this. They are SO wrong. Not that many people are going to watch the World Series.

    October 19, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • len

      CNN needs a 'Like' button. Hahaha!

      October 19, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  11. The Chicago Cubs

    Only losers chew tobacco, and trust us, we know losers.

    October 19, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  12. VBD

    Prtobably wouldn't be a bad idea for them to DO THEIR JOB and pass something related to the economy and quit all these stupid social issue. How about they ban fattening foods for players Children could see them eating fattening stuff and grow up fat themselves. Wait, they already did.

    October 19, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  13. dawn

    Please to ban this gross habit. I can't even imagine sliding into base all over somebody's nasty wad of saliva and brown slop. It's never appropriate for people to spit in public. The last thing I want to see as I'm walking up to a restaurant is some nasty pig hawking one up and splatting it right there. Don't even get me started on farmer blowing. Sick.

    October 19, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Feast of Beast

      Like too 🙂

      October 19, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Darthlawsuit

    Chewing tobacco only hurts yourself and no one else. I see no problems here. Should we ban McDonalds because it is bad for people's health.

    I am all for banning smoking because it affects people beyond yourself. However chew is harmless (besides the breath >_<!)

    October 19, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  15. rad666

    So glad to see the senators have solved all of the problems in the US and now have time to focus on this. Seriously is parents think that the players chewing tobacco is so offensive then they should not watch baseball. Talk about communism.. the government trying to control every aspect of our lives is simply out of control. Telling us what to eat, what to drink, not to smoke, wear a seatbelt, when will it stop.
    Go back to being the government and leave people to their lives

    October 19, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
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