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. JMK

    Is there a reason why this is the story that keeps coming up when I click on "Occupy Wall Street may get Star Power"?

    October 19, 2011 at 9:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • zombie kid

      I like Turtles.

      October 19, 2011 at 9:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • FeralUrchin

      Yup. Somebody at CNN screwed up.

      October 19, 2011 at 10:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • exciter

      me too!

      October 19, 2011 at 10:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • miles

      Fabulous idea – its about time – would watch the game more without the spitting and wow what a fabulous new image to people of all ages and much better fro health and the planet too – love it – do it – please please please

      October 19, 2011 at 11:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rain

      To show us the Senate is a group of idiots and Occupy Wall St. is right? I mean seriously? All the problems in our country and they're worrying about this? They're grown adults doing a legal substance! Stop infringing on personal freedoms!

      October 19, 2011 at 11:37 pm | Report abuse |
  2. j ohn

    I would bet a million dollars (if I had it) that the protest against this tobacco thing came from request from upper class parents. A million fn dollars.

    October 19, 2011 at 9:36 pm | Report abuse |
  3. j ohn

    Do you know what the Social Register is? Then you haven't a clue about the upper "robber" class.

    October 19, 2011 at 9:38 pm | Report abuse |
  4. scranton

    Enough of these corrupt politicians telling people how to behave.

    October 19, 2011 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Phil

    The corruption that money brings to politics must end.

    OCW: Destruction of Corruption

    October 19, 2011 at 9:47 pm | Report abuse |
  6. bigmart

    There baseball players they are not heros, don't idiolize them.

    October 19, 2011 at 10:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • bigmart

      *They're* sorry

      October 19, 2011 at 10:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hovitheman

      To call them heros is an understatement. As a 14 year old baseball player, name brand means everything. Every kid goes through the stage of wanting a glove with a signiture stamped in it. We all look up to these guys as heros and if Derek Jeter wears a flat bill, we go buy a flatbill. Point being we see these profesional baseball players chewing tobacco therefore we are prone to the same habbit. Why do you think sunflower seeds were invented? The players should not get profit from the items they sell with their name on it if they can't suck it up for 3 hours and go without tobacco. Hell we tend to spend money on them for anything else they do so why don't we pay them a couple million a game to stand on tv without tobacco in their mouth? We know playing baseball for a living is hard work. Can't immagine what going without something in your mouth for three hours would be like.....

      October 19, 2011 at 11:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cfish92

      Hovitheman:
      You tell them not to dip for 3 hours, lets multiple those 3 hours by the 162+ games they play and the 3-4 hours they warm-up before games. In between the half innings that television goes to commercial, how many beer commercials do we see? Should we get rid of those also because kids are watching? As I watch the highlights from tonight's game, the advertisement i see right behind homeplate would be a... Budweiser one. That should be banned too shouldn't it? These are grown men playing baseball, why should Congress have ANY right what so ever to tell them what they can and can't do? Nothing they're doing is considered "illegal". Oh and should they take away the post game champagne celebrations? Problem with America today; everyone always blames someone else, and the government is trying to control things they have no right to. I can't even believe that were talking about this when our economy is going to crap. Worry about something more important Congress.

      October 20, 2011 at 12:41 am | Report abuse |
  7. daveinohio

    The government has no business telling people what and what not they should do when it comes to a legal product. They never come out and say the amount of money generated in taxes on tobacco and liquor. I everyone took them at their word and stopped using tobacco, they'd be scrambling their butts off to raise taxes on something else.

    October 19, 2011 at 10:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Commojoe

      All too true. You notice every single time the libs want more money for something, the first thing they try to jack up is taxes on tobacco and alcohol. And now they want to ban it? They are idiots, and if it's a legal product, they need to shut the ____ up.

      October 19, 2011 at 11:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rain

      I agree! Don't Senators have more important things to work on? Stop making laws that infringe on personal freedom!

      October 19, 2011 at 11:33 pm | Report abuse |
  8. freedom fighter

    if it's not an illegal substance, leave the man alone.

    October 19, 2011 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jacob

    It's really quite simple. If a baseball player cared about whether or not a child starts using tobacco, they would not chew during games. Those that use tobacco during games know some children will start using, at least partially becasue of their influence, and they also know that some of those kids will eventually die from it. They just don't care. The good part is, you can tell which players are morally bankrupt by their spit.

    October 19, 2011 at 11:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • MedicMax

      When I was younger and playing baseball I thought that tobacco had already been banned by MLB. I wasn't aware of this mistake until the media picked up on this story. Kids aren't looking up to the big leagers due to their tobacco usage, and to claim that this will be amulated is absurd on the face of it.

      October 19, 2011 at 11:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rain

      You must know really stupid children!

      October 19, 2011 at 11:40 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Marine5484

    Really? Because this is important. How about they focus on oh......I don't know, the economy.

    October 19, 2011 at 11:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rain

      Exactly! This is so dumb and I love when I clicked on what was supposed to be a link to the Occupy movement this crap came up! Occupy is right our politicians are the problem!

      October 19, 2011 at 11:39 pm | Report abuse |
  11. E. Ness

    Sure am glad they didn't ban alcohol, drugs or steriods. Then it'd be REALLY dull.

    October 19, 2011 at 11:32 pm | Report abuse |
  12. mo

    why in hell should major league players be banned from chewing tobacco just because some dumb kid is too stupid to think for themselves and make their own decisions?
    i am an athlete, and have been an athlete since i was 6 years old..played college football and soccer as well as in high-school. why should i change my behavior to accomodate some little kid whose parent can not parent?
    do you know why these players chew? i played baseball for 2 years in high school... chewing tobacco calms your nerves, and when u have a good pitcher and are sitting out there in center field waiting for a ball to come your way, you can get quite bored... thence chewing tobacco.
    parents need to parent, it is not up to musicians, movie stars, athlete to parent...if you can not parent and instill the right values in your kids, then don't have kids.

    October 19, 2011 at 11:36 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Sheldon

    Baseball has been on television for decades, tobacco-chewing included. Why all of a sudden is this is an issue now? Have all the baseball-watching children from decades past become tobacco chewers? I don't see any evidence at all of that. Before you know it, the players will be forbidden to scratch themselves on camera . . . Welcome to liberal culture.

    October 19, 2011 at 11:47 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Liberals are stupid

    Senator Durbin.... Democrat
    Senator Lautenburg.... Democrat
    Senator Blumenthal .........Democrat
    Senator Harkin......Democrat

    All four nazis wanting to ban an adult right! You liberals are disgusting! Next thing, these liberals will start trying to ban freedom of speech. I vote to have a national punch a liberal in the mouth day!

    October 19, 2011 at 11:54 pm | Report abuse |
  15. nytw

    Why don't these idiots in Washington quit wasting time on nonsense like this and deal with real issues. I don't know something like 2 war, a massive debt, unemployment, etc.
    I guess it is just easier for liberals and conservatives both to take away more of our freedoms.

    October 20, 2011 at 12:16 am | Report abuse |
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