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. Tripp

    Only if the Senators take a course on Ethics. Then they can say something about banning chew. Good greif, havnt these idiots anything better to do than try and ban a tobacco product?

    October 19, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • thatrix

      Hey it's only fair.
      Those of us who enjoy a little marijuana once in a while are considered felons.
      If we are all equal then tobacco should also be illegal.

      October 19, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Let the players do what they want. If they want to dip let them dip. This isnt high school this is Major League Baseball they are all grown men let them make there own choices

      October 19, 2011 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  2. nate

    if they don't want it on the field then they should try making it illegal....never mind that
    the games are so late there are hardly any kids watching anyway.

    October 19, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Roberto Clemente

    Start worryng more of our veterans benefits. Fight for a good cause. Instead of a lost one.

    October 19, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jack

    Are these guys serious?!?!?! Do they/we not have more important things to worrry with in this country?!?!?! This very article is a sound argument for term limits at the congressional level. I say vote out of office every senator and representative who've served more than two terms.

    October 19, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Roberto Clemente

    With you Jack!

    October 19, 2011 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Joe B

    15 million people is less than the amount that watched tim allens new show apparently. I love baseball, but it's dead among our youth, so I say let em dip a lot worse has gone on in baseball over the last 125 years anyway.

    October 19, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jack

    I say they also restrict the type of toilet paper the players use also. If our government is going to control evey aspect of our lives, then they must go all the way. Outlaw any paper that chaffes, it must go!

    October 19, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
  8. john


    October 19, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
  9. dg

    These senators should focus on the federal budget, general spending, war, our veterans, health care, and job creation not about a free choice that does no harm to the individuals briefly watching a guy spit. FOCUS on real issues!!!

    October 19, 2011 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  10. NoCancer

    Yeah the economy is terrible, no jobs, and the US infrastructure is crumbling right before our eyes, but these guys have a good point. If kids see the players chewing, they will chew because it looks like a normal behavior. Do you want to pay more in medical cost for throat, mouth, and stomach cancer, HHHHHHHMMMMM do you?

    October 19, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Adam

      No more hot dogs either. I don't want to have to pay for all the consequenses of obesity.

      October 19, 2011 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • ak2k

      Thank you!

      October 19, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |

    Why not ban beer at games too. Children can see fans drinking beer in the stands and that could have the kids running down to there corner deli for a six pack. I'm sure if we look at some of their advertiser they could be banned too. Oh no can't do that, that's revenue, as is the beer sales. Where will it end!!!

    October 19, 2011 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • NoCancer

      Good point, drinking leads to crimes, spousal abuse, unemployment, drinking causes more damage then drugs did you know

      October 19, 2011 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Not Their Problem

    Athletes are not role models. Playing sports is their JOB.

    October 19, 2011 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
  13. strangways

    Ban's a great idea – tobacco chewing is one of the most disgusting habits ever – and if anyone thinks spitting brown tobacco juice or walking around looking like Quasimodo with a bulging cheek is "cool", they are totally clueless. Anyone who chews should Google "Oral Cancer". check out the photos... Almost as anti-social and disgusting are cigar smokers. yeeech!

    October 19, 2011 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
  14. BigRedd

    I agree with many of you that there are many more pressing and serious issues concerning the nation as a whole, but it would still be a good idea. Baseball is not lost on our youth. My 8yr old son watches baseball as often as possible and loves to play it. This idea would just be another good step in insuring the health of our youth and future generations.

    October 19, 2011 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
  15. CDQ

    Parents are lazy, businesses don't care about protecting the youth from images of their idols smoking habits.

    Then when those kids want to idolize that by smoking also and get sick then all those medical bills runs up everyone elses premium then yeah I think these senators have a moral and financial obligation to pass this.

    I DONT WANT TO pay for extra medical bills for some (not all) lazy parents from not preventing their kids from doing bad habits.

    October 19, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
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