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. What now

    I just have to say enough. I am sick of the role model argument. Parents are responsible for teaching their own kids appropriate behavior. If parents are afraid their kids may somehow notice that the player is dipping or chewing, then don't take your kid to the game. If you don't like certain movies or TV shows, don't let the little one watch. The whole world does not revolve around your kid. YOU are their role model and you are the one who is responsible for their behavior. By the way, I don't think tobacco is a good idea, but it's not my choice.

    October 20, 2011 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • WEST KILLER 310

      your ignorant

      October 20, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • bkg


      October 20, 2011 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Zoidberg, MD

      @WEST KILLER 310

      Oh the irony.

      October 20, 2011 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
  2. dennis

    Once again, Big Government sticking its nose where it doesn't belong.

    October 20, 2011 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Mike

    One more step towards communism. Baseball and dipping are an American tradition! Dip on!

    October 20, 2011 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
  4. luke

    Might as well just make cigerettes illegal because it sends a wrong message to kids.

    October 20, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Wondering

    Ahem. No one is looking to make chewing tobacco illegal. They asked, repeat ASKED, MLB to consider telling players to stop chewing it during games because high school kids start doing it by looking at pro players doing it, and thus doing damage to themselves by getting hooked on what is essentially a legal drug. Take it easy with the "Big Government" hyperbole. It's not like Dick Durbin is commanding MLB to send players to fight in Iraq or something.

    October 20, 2011 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • steve harnack

      Yeah, they really want to play the biggest game of their lives while going through nicotine withdrawal. Choose a different time and place to flog your favorite horse.

      October 21, 2011 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
    • yump13

      Guaranteed if you ask any person that has ever thrown in a dip why they took their first dip they will tell you that a friend offered it to them and they took it. MLB players have 0 effect on making kids throw in a dip.

      October 21, 2011 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • suck it

      okay you are retarded and so is anyone else who thinks that the reason kids are dipping is because baseball players do it. sure some kids see that and are dumb enough to base that on why they do things but they all make their own decisions! If a highschool boy wants to put a dip in its his choice. Just like when an ADULT MAJOR LEAUGE BASEBALL PLAYER puts in a dip its his choice and he has a right to make that.

      October 24, 2011 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
  6. Ted

    This world we live in today is so sad. It's all about health and perfect lives. Kids can't even tell whats in their mouth, for all they know its some bubble gum in their lip.

    October 20, 2011 at 5:33 pm | Report abuse |
  7. MadasHell

    What are these senators doing? Of all the stupid idiot moves these senators make this one takes the cake! Raise your own kid and let the rest of us alone! Don't want to see tobacco, then don't watch TV or go to the game! Listen on the Radio!
    These Senators should be figuring out ways to create jobs instead of this idiotic BS!

    October 21, 2011 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
  8. Smokedrift

    The senators don't have to worry about setting themselves up as role models because the things they do that they shouldn't do are not done on television. At least they try to keep it that way.

    October 21, 2011 at 9:14 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Pointe

    I propose a ban on speaking for US senators. They're endangering the mental health of the American public with their absurdities.

    October 22, 2011 at 8:42 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Joao

    Let the Prohibitionists chew on THAT for awhile! Smoking has been known to make nalgimalry rational people go bonkers over the sight of a smoker. The pleasure a smoker undertakes gets at the very craw of these nalgimalry sane people in a way that defies explanation. The anti-smoker' s brain crawls with unexplainable firing of synapses in the regions of logical thought. The anti-smoker begins to sweat uncontrollably, eyeballs begin spinning, and their heart rates spin out of control. There is no treatment or cure, other than a padded room for a spell.

    March 12, 2012 at 11:37 pm | Report abuse |
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