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. sean manning

    first you have peta, wanting no fried chicken in the dugout, then you have madd, not wanting brews in the dugout, now the senators want no tobacco. gosh when is this world going to end?

    October 19, 2011 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • thatrix

      The real question is when will everyone stop being a babysitter for society?
      We're all adults and we don't need others to tell us what is and is not moral.

      October 19, 2011 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Big Red Machine

    Congratulations to the players on making it to the World Series. You are all outrageously manly. Don't forget that your Mom is watching though.

    October 19, 2011 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Los Locos


    October 19, 2011 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • augustghost


      October 19, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
  4. OGR99

    Far be it from the tolerant left to tell someone else what to do with their own lives.

    October 19, 2011 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Ryan W

    Senators asking professional athletes to stop chewing is like asking politicians to stop lying.........face the facts, It's what they do day in and day out!

    October 19, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ron

      Bulls Eye!

      October 19, 2011 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Ibran

    Seriously? How about doing your jobs and SAVING OUR DAMN COUNTRY. With everything that is going wrong right now, this is what they are paying attention to? I can tell you 30 things right now that are poisoning our children against their will ,and your worried about tobacco? Why do we even have a Congress? What do they really do? This is crap, i'm joining OWS at least they are trying.

    October 19, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  7. ohmygod

    So are these self righteous Senators going to stop lying, cheating and drinking to set a better example. Please vote all the a holes out of office.

    October 19, 2011 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Granite Sentry

    You can't let these guys get all the way to the biggest moment of their lives and then kick away their crutch. Typical liberal do-goodism. And what effect on America's youth do the senators think all the grouchy, nicotine-deprived fistfights will have?

    October 19, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jean Luc Picard

    Use the Force, Harry! ~Gandalf

    October 19, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
  10. ak2k

    It's gross, and narcotics should not be used in any form during a sporting event like this. So I completely agree with this effort. GO ST. LOUIS!!!!

    October 19, 2011 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Montgomery Burns

      We Suck! The Cards are much better than we could ever hope to be.

      October 19, 2011 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • shut up

      St. Louis sucks and get a life!!! MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS!!!!

      October 19, 2011 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tripp

      That is your moronic opinion. How dare you tell anyone what they can and can not do. I have one idea for you-ban this and mind your own freakin business.

      October 19, 2011 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • ak2k

      But they are making it everyone's business by doing it on national television. If they kept it in the private sector of their lives no big deal. They are a walking talking advertisement for chewing tobacco.

      October 19, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Buck Ofama

    Give me a break!!! Instead of getting bent out of shape over the baseball players chewing tobacco maybe our elected leaders could spend a little time FIXING THE ECONOMY!!! Perhaps we should have a ban on idiots working in Washington, DC.

    October 19, 2011 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nick

      Lol agree with this, cept we wouldn't have a government then. . . oh wait, in the words of "Country boy" by aaron lewis. . Never needed government to hold my hand.

      October 19, 2011 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
  12. MikeRowe1525

    Unbelievable! Congressman have a hard time passing anything of substance in congress, but yet they want to stick their noses in a sport they have no business. I guwess if your going to be an idiot politician in DC, might as well be a total idiot outside of DC.

    October 19, 2011 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Randy

    If this is what our Senators are worried about its time to impeach these idiots. Work on the country and make taxes fair!

    October 19, 2011 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Ted Williams

    Wa Wa Wa... Perhaps those Senators should consider stopping drinking in public and hosting alcohol free fundraisers. It is interesting how the Democrats (all the senators signing the letter were Democrats) promote freedom except those freedoms they don't personally like and that is not freedom it is tyranny.

    October 19, 2011 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Shawn

    Dear Senators, Please start doing the job you were hired to do. I do not need you telling me how to raise my children, and I definately do not expect a baseball player to raise them. Please work on the economy, jobs, energy....The things you are supposed to be doing. If not we may need to find Senators that will. quit screwing around at strt doing something prosperus.

    October 19, 2011 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
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