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. sikpupi

    It's good to know that the Senate is focusing on the important things, never mind the wars and the economy. Maybe they could make Joe Lieberman the Secretary of Spit – he's fully qualified, I'm sure.

    October 19, 2011 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Mister Jones

    They might should edit the National Anthem if they are still going to sing it before games; because it clearly says "... the land of the free". And that does not seem to be accurate.

    October 19, 2011 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Commojoe

      The national anthem could be revised to "the land of the free and the home of the endlessly whiney"

      October 19, 2011 at 11:18 pm | Report abuse |
  3. teams33

    PAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALEASE. Ball Players are who they should be protesting. LOL

    October 19, 2011 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Pete Askme

    The goverment should take a much more active role in regulating sports behavior. There should be laws so that no one can lose because the losers feel bad and that's not good for anyone. Personally I think congress should make regulations so that all games end in tie scores. The players and fans will all be much happier because that way everyone will feel good. And lots more people will go to the games that way. That's just one example of all the really good things government could do if it had more time and more of our money in the form of taxes. Bigger government is the only way to make America a truly wonderful place to live.

    October 19, 2011 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. radcliffe

    This is disgusting, don't these lazy senators have anything better to do with their time? I hope and pray the players put their foots down and tell these people to f*** off and threaten to boycott the world series.

    October 19, 2011 at 8:03 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dana

      When you state Senators your painting a broad stroke, I really wonder how many would really are asking this, more than that I want to know Who.

      October 19, 2011 at 8:08 pm | Report abuse |
  6. JeffinIL

    Jerry Costello isn't running for re-election in Illinois. Abbot (Dick Durbin) needs to do the same. People that are so disconnected from the reality of what this country is facing should not be in office.

    October 19, 2011 at 8:11 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. robert breisch

    what?!
    Drugs are the rave in Baseball! The players cant shoot up steroids any longer so they dope the players up with modified chew-probably laced with cocaine-to amp them up into super performers!
    What would baseball be with out an amped up team free of any legal or otherwise stimulants?
    Or what will the game become when the players cant advertise unhealthy habits

    October 19, 2011 at 8:12 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. xuxo

    Now all of a sudden its a big deal when big chew gum its still out there to incite kids into chew.There it is,our tax $ at work.cmon these politicians need a salary cap so that way they can really be public servants.

    October 19, 2011 at 8:14 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. robert breisch

    its a national symbol-players sucking on tobacco and spitting all over the place,lol
    baseball isnt baseball without cancer causing tobacco

    October 19, 2011 at 8:16 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Kent

    In a word....El Toro Poo Poo..okay, four words.

    October 19, 2011 at 8:18 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Marcus

    Really politicians?! Get back to work and let the men who are old enough choose to do what they want...

    October 19, 2011 at 8:50 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Cathyjb

      @Marcos <>

      Agreed. However, if politicians followed your suggestion, they could not continue their attempt to run the lives of other people. Apparently, that is all they are capable of doing since they clearly cannot run their own. I guess I missed the news flash that all of the nation's real problems are solved .

      October 19, 2011 at 9:27 pm | Report abuse |
  12. karen

    It has long been apart of the game. Can't take all rights away from people. It is an individuals decision not ours. This is why we are able to think for ourselves.

    October 19, 2011 at 9:08 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. teams33

    What are people not protesting sports stars and so called celebrities? Those are the 1%. Geez

    October 19, 2011 at 9:09 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. HArry

    Don't we have ENOUGH regulations – ENOUGH RULES – People can't raise their HANDS without breaking a Fn RULE. Why CANT they bring the TROOPs home – WHY CAN't THEY CREATE JOBs – AND STOP gettiing into people's BUSINESS. SOME Zombies – they love to be RULED – and let THESE Boys POCKET all their RIGHTS. They always USE the KIDS in their STATEMENTS – while they are CUTTInG EDUCATION – and STUDENTS LOANS – STAY OFF BASEBALL.

    October 19, 2011 at 9:32 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • j ohn

      meanwhile wall street out-of-control capitalists are selling our economy to India, Brazil, China – - so fn American of them. Imprison wall street asses!!

      October 19, 2011 at 9:35 pm | Report abuse |
  15. j ohn

    It should be up to the league to ban that stuff. A lot of companies, especially health related ones are starting to ban hiring smokers. It's just a matter of time with MLB but please senators – this really is none of your business not is it? How about imprisoning some of those wall street bankers that are selling out the USAs economy...

    October 19, 2011 at 9:33 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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