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.

Post by:
Filed under: Baseball • Sports
soundoff (842 Responses)
  1. Mustian

    Wow! The economy has tanked, Wall Street has turned into Woodstock, and yet our elected officials wish to focus time and effort on what MLB players put in their mouths. I thought Congressmen were elected to protect our freedoms not take them away. Here's the deal Senator Dick, don't try to distract me with this B.S. because you don't know how to fix the real problems that ail America. Last time I checked, smokeless tobacco wasn't a banned or illegal substance. So telling a free American that they can't use it is borderline Socialistic or Communistic. Leave our freedoms alone Congress! If you want to help our children, take the millions that you waste on indicting professional athletes and apply it to education. Last time I checked, baseball, football, basketball along with every other professional sport have their own regulating committees. If you want to run America, then run it, that's why we voted you into office, but if you want to regulate baseball players, resign your position and take a job with MLB, however after reading that the wealth in D.C. just surpassed Silicon Valley, I doubt you'll be stepping down from your post anytime soon.

    October 20, 2011 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Dean

      BRAVO!! ABSOLUTELY!! I AGREE WITH YOU 150%!!! The next thing on their agenda is telling you how much salt you can eat. Swami Deano sees a big upsurge in sales of those little packets of salt!! Thank you Nanny Sam!

      October 20, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Julie

      TOO MUCH TIME IN THEIR HANDS....after all, it's not like they are taking care of the REAL things concerning the citizens of this nation!

      October 20, 2011 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Bob Saget

    As if there aren't more pressing issues. Are you friggin kidding me?

    October 20, 2011 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Julie

      That was my thought as soon as I read this, but actually thought: ARE YOU F-–G KIDDING ME?

      October 20, 2011 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Scottish Mama

    I agree with Clyde, Next will be all sports and what about car racing, with the death of The young man with a wife and 2 children. Should they put a limit on cars on that track or would it take away the money purse for speeding around a track. Haven't the tobacco users been persecuted enough.
    With that said, again I say.........................................................................................................................................................
    Goooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo Cards!

    October 20, 2011 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
  4. Aaron

    Well, it does cause mouth cancer. Kids mimic what they see. It makes sense. They could chew sunflower seeds instead or smoke a cigarette during breaks in a smoke room. Or heck, chew in the dugout.

    But I bet if the cameras stopped zooming in on them things would clear up and they can live with mouth cancer as happy as a bee.

    October 20, 2011 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
  5. Nick

    Get Real!!! The U.S. is falling apart financially, and they are worried about tobacco? It's their game! Hell, if they want beer in the dugout, what's the big deal? People are getting trashed in the bleachers and falling to their deaths and they care about tobacco use?

    October 20, 2011 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
  6. brad

    all I have to say is good luck.

    October 20, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Julie

    WOW! crap...and what the hell?? soon I will be paranoid about everything I do...or others do! What is this country turning into? can I do this or anything if my curtains are drawn? is someone going to turn me in? DAMN!

    October 20, 2011 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
  8. ljethrogibbs46

    Ah, the Congress, ever ready to jump into our personal lives -abortion, steroids in baseball, gay rights,etc. And now they want to ban tobakky from the national sport! I'm not a fan of chewing tobacco, but for God's sake, why do they WASTE TIME on this stuff instead of tackling REAL problems facing the country?

    October 20, 2011 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wondering

      So, let me get this straight: you're FOR government telling women they can't have abortions, you're FOR government telling gays they can't have the same rights as straight people, but you're AGAINST government asking MLB to have players stop chewing tobacco.

      Well, at least you're totally consistent and not just arbitrarily spewing nonsense, right?

      October 20, 2011 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Toby (Kansas)

    THEY ARE GROWN A$$ MEN!!!! Congress......stick your ignorance in your own issues please. thank you.

    October 20, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Rev. Mike

    Maybe we should also ban their eating or doing commercials companies that sell red meat! How about beer? Ban that too? Maybe ban them from living or playing in towns with high smog levels or high crime rates! They are not role models! They play a game that make rich people richer and sell cars, soap and beer!

    October 20, 2011 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
  11. paul johnson

    And yet alcohol commercials that children can recite verbatim are totally accepted during the World Series. Even the announcers say, "This first pitch brought to you by Budweiser."

    October 20, 2011 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Julie

      And at a time when alcoholism/drug addiction, including presc. drug addiction is at a all time high- not enough programs to treat our children-UNLESS YOU ARE RICH-Yeah, lets see...lets focus on tabacco chewing? THESE ARE OUR PUBLIC SERVANTS?

      October 20, 2011 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  12. marc

    Sen. Dick Durbin and other senators can worry about what some guys put in their mouths but no worry about jobs in America. Remember their names next time they run and don't vote for them, because this is proof that they don't know how to do their jobs.

    October 20, 2011 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Sigmund

    Just because there's an economic crisis going on right now doesn't mean everything else has to grind to a halt. Society still has to make progress. And the people thinking this is somehow infringing on their rights can go eat feces because you have a right to do that too. This only applies to MLB, no one's taking away your tobacco.

    I do however think banning tobacco at games is the wrong move when they can just simply not point the cameras at people using it. Looks like the media, once again, is to blame.

    October 20, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Evan (Connecticut)

    How about Viagra commercials during Sunday football games? Senetor, how do you explain to your child what an erectile disfunction is?

    October 20, 2011 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Andrew

    what's up with baseball and chewing tobacco anyway? I've never seen ANYONE except people playing baseball chew tobacco. I think if it wasn't for the sport chewing tobacco would only be seen in museums.

    October 20, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34