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. Chris

    If tobacco is so bad, why is it even still legal? For that matter, why is alcohol? Both of those substances are more harmful than marijuana but they get a free pass. Wonder why? And, no I'm not a pot smoker. I just try and use logic.

    October 19, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • voiceofreal

      because those substances have been controlled for generations. Controlled = regulated and taxed. The amount of money spent on regulating marijuana use would not equal the revenue generated by taxing it. As in everything, when cost outweighs benefit, action will not be taken

      October 19, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Life

      VoiceOfReal You apparently don't live in reality. If the government and state already make a ton of money off of alcohol and tobacco, why would they not make just as much money off of marijuana? Your logic is illogical.

      October 19, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • UFC iTard

      It has nothing to do with the cost of regulation. Marijuana's illegal because if it was legalized people would start using it for biofuel and textiles. And since congress is so deep in the oil, lumber and cotton industries' pockets marijuana will be illegal until we run out of fossil fuel and trees.

      October 19, 2011 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • voiceofreal

      @Life, because the initial fixed costs of regulating marijuana out weigh the tax revenue for a substantial period of time. Check back at me when you've taken something besides macro101

      October 19, 2011 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  2. john

    lets ban nba players from chewing gum while we're at it. half the players do it, and do young children need to see athletes causing damage to their teeth?

    October 19, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jose Wan Sekiavich

    Kind of like all the "beer sponsorships" that run baseball and other sports? Like, that's a healthy thing for children to get attached to? Come on – either use common sense or please find some legislation that may make sense these days.

    October 19, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  4. JEN


    October 19, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Ed

    Hey, maybe we should ban spitting period. What difference does it make whether it has a little tobacco flavor and darker color to it. Does it make it better if it has the natural greenish color to it! And while we're at it, lets ban un-shaven players and long hair. These guys make tons of money, and they can't get a hair cut and shave! It don't think somebody that's supposed to be a roll model should look like a bum. This is America's past-time, lets get it cleaned up!!!

    October 19, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tyler

      Why are baseball players supposed to be "roll" models? Parents are supposed to be role models. Stop absolving them of responsibility and blaming random people. Anyway you sound like a fascist idiot.

      October 19, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • voiceofreal

      Tyler, I believe he was being sarcastic

      October 19, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  6. voiceofreal

    What a load of BS. Ballplayers are ballplayers. It is the parents' responsibility to contain their children's use of illegal substances. They are grown men and can do whatever they darn well please.

    Pack big, spit less

    October 19, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Tyler

    America is great at taking responsibility from parents and placing blame on the most random external factors. Your son uses tobacco? Blame baseball players!

    October 19, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Snoop

    All of the people complaining about the Tea Party, smaller government, etc, should probably re-read the article and note that these are DEMOCRAT senators, NOT Republicans.

    Any excuse to sling insults at conservatives, though, eh?

    October 19, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • LOL

      That is funny stuff!!!!!

      October 19, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Dennis

    If you are going to ban tobacco use in the Series to show that MLB is a role model, then you probably should not have the Series at Busch stadium and show all the beer commercials

    October 19, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Michael paul

    How many photos are circulating around of Obama smoking? What message does that send?

    October 19, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • alex

      Rossevelt, Harding, Taft, D Eisenhower, Kennedy, reagan and Bush all smoked, so what's your point? all of a sudden Obama is suppose to make it right?

      October 19, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Homer

    OOH NOOO, the Fat Cats in Washington want to destroy the only crappy past-time we have left? What else are baseball players supposed to do during the game, play? Get me a beer, boy!

    U S A
    U S A
    U S A
    U S A

    October 19, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Red Man

    Dear Government,

    Fix our crumbling country. We don't need you to legislate professional sports. Also, if people don't want kids to chew, they should educate their own children accordingly.

    This nation has become so soft and weak. All people do these days is tell others what they can and can't do because of the poor children and other idiots who may be offended. Whenever something bad happens, these softies call to ban the activity in question (air shows, car racing, etc.).

    October 19, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  13. John Doe

    This is America's game, let them chew! This is in violation of the 14th amendment. Depriving these ballplayers from their liberty to chew tobacco, in accordance with state law. They have done nothing to get this right revoked. If this is passed we may as well live in Communist Russia before the wall fell!

    October 19, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  14. nightshade.

    Hey, that baccy juice makes for the ultimate spit ball.

    October 19, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  15. bobcat2u

    Nobodys business except those that do it.

    October 19, 2011 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
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