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. Aaron

    Everyone knows how much baseball players like changing up their routine, especially in the championship series. I'm sure this will go over real well

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

    Oh my gosh! This is ridicules. Why is the senate jumping in on this? They should keep out of the MLB's business. Where are the parents today? It's your job to set the examples, norms, values, and morals in your family. You should feel ashamed by letting a baseball player having such an impact.

    Keep the chewing tobacco. They get paid to play baseball, not be role models. If you want a role model in your child's life, BE ONE!

    October 19, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dipper1988

      @Jeremy – I agree. If some other person has more influence on your kid than you, the parent, and your kids role model is some dude on TV, then you have failed. Period.

      October 19, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  3. SMD

    If we were to ban everything "bad" that a child "might see" then we could end up with a laundry list of things to ban. Guess it's ok for the sale and consumption of beer and sugar filled foods at the games, right? Crazy. Let parents be parents in determining what they alone permit their children to see or participate in, or not. The way things are going we won't have to be stressed over making decisions because so many of them will be made for us.

    October 19, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dipper1988

      Isn't that what the governement is here for? to make decisions for us?

      October 19, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • ak2k

      PEOPLE!!!!! They are not trying to ban it out-right, they just don't want it on TV, like they banned smoking on TV. Ease up, it's the right thing to do!

      October 19, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Albert Espinoza

    Isn't there some sort of Administrative Agency that can take over this initiative? I agree with many others on this one, senators should be more focused on other things.

    October 19, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  5. jdun

    Although I agree that congress has more important work, such as passing Obama's jobs bill, I think they are right to pressure baseball to get rid of chew. Fans at games can't use tobacco, why should players be able to? But, I suppose some of you probably feel that they also should be able to carry guns on the field for protection, too!

    October 19, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dipper1988

      @jdun – not sure where the guns reference is coming from, but I can see your agenda.

      October 19, 2011 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • thomas diprima

      Hey bud....there's a considerably big difference between a loaded gun and smokeless tobacco.

      October 19, 2011 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • DogBite

      Dude, where does a gun fit in on this? To much crack?

      October 19, 2011 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Dipper1988

    More viewers watch Jersey Shore than the World Series. Those viewers of the Jersey Shore are actually younger than those that watch the World Series. Now I ask you, which tv programming is probably not a good influence on the younger gneration? I say let the ball players dip and chew. I think the example the Jersey Shore sets is worse and that should actually be banned. Why doesn't good 'ole Dick Durbin write a letter to the producers of the Jersey Shore and ask them not to air their example because of the youth watching. BTW, I am a former dipper of 20 years, and I still say let the grown men make their own choices, just like I did.

    October 19, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Onpar

      I agree with Dipper and I don't even dip. What's next? Ban players from scratching their crotches? Oh wait, maybe that was the Jersey Shore. So confusing.

      October 19, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  7. T.rex

    I think they should get rid of baseballs, too. I mean you could throw one of those things at someone and hurt somebody!

    October 19, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dipper1988

      @T.rex – LOL. Absolutely. People also, unfortunately, hurt themselves trying to catch a ball. The ball should be banned from the sport too.

      October 19, 2011 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Johnny

    How ridiculous. Soon we'll have no rights left.

    October 19, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dipper1988

      @Johnny – I see it like this – Everyone in charge has the same philosophy about our rights.: "Rights are like an elephant, we need to eat it one bite at a time."

      October 19, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  9. thomas diprima

    Get real!! How outrageous can things get? Someone tell these politicians that life isn't a fairy tale. Why don't they consider bringing prohibition back too while they're at it......................morons [whatever party]

    October 19, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Anton

    Let's celebrate! They must have fixed all the other problems in our country to feel the need to regulate how adults use a legal product. Huzzah!

    October 19, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Paul Cobb

    The senators should just as well have the TV network fined for showing the players chewing/spitting tobacco, if they are worried about how it looks to minors. Then let the adults indulge in it at their risk without presenting a face to the horrible aspects of their using tobacco if the networks keep the cameras off the dugout.

    October 19, 2011 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  12. UCFknightman

    I don't use tobacco, but I support anyone's right to use it. It's their personal right, particularly snuff and doesn't hurt anyone else and is a personal choice that no one else can ethically make for you.

    October 19, 2011 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  13. JD

    If the senators really had some stones they would ban all tobacco products period, but then their rich buddies who own the tobacco companies would be really upset

    October 19, 2011 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dipper1988

      @JD. – I agree, tabacoo is bad for you, but smoking pot is ok. HaHA

      October 19, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • senatordelusional

      You'd probably be singing a different tune if they wanted to take your XBox away loser.

      October 19, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dipper1988

      @senatordelusional – My was tongue in cheek. I hope you didn't think I was serious.

      October 19, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Tom

    Nobody wants a nanny state. There would be a laundry list of things to ban if the government began to legislate against things that are "unhealthy." Just let the players play and let them chew what they want to chew.

    October 19, 2011 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
  15. senatordelusional

    Geeezus H. you'd think these senators would have something better to obsess about than what a pro athlete does.

    October 19, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
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