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. Roco1957

    What's wrong with this idiots?!?! There are too many real issue they need to address. Politicians talking about having government out of people's lives and they turn around and want to impose their idea of child rearing on someone. It's the parent's responsibility to dictate to their children what to put in their bodies, not the Senate. What's next? Banning every form of video gaming because kids could become gun toting psychopaths? That's what's wrong with our society. Government raising children instead of parents.

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

      Learn how to use plurals before you call others "idiots"

      October 19, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      @ John: The improper use of plurals is not affecting our politics so stop acting like an idiot yourself.

      October 19, 2011 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • jT

      That's is one of the reasons problems don't get solved in this country anymore, we waste time on nonsense. There have much bigger problems than baseball player chewing tobacco.

      October 19, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  2. MK

    Senators need to govern not fret about sports. What the hell are we paying these jokers for anyway?

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

    Life is dangerous. Get a helmet.

    These senators should have something better to do than to tell adults and private organizations what they can and cannot do.

    October 19, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      How would they be "fighting crime" then. We lost the War on Ideas so they need to build their confidence by warring on their fellow Americans. Its the only War they can start and finish.

      October 19, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • danlb

      Right. Ballplayers have been doing this for over a hundred years. Baseball has been televised for over 60 years. So now some senators want to weigh in on what their kids see at the ball park? Really? How about all the stuff you DON'T see? Steroids, drug use, graft,etc.

      October 19, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Mike

    Yes! Lets allow TV to raise our kids for us! Keep adults from hurting themselves and outlaw everything we don't like. Nanny State for the WIN!
    Next year no more MTV or ESPN because it causes adults to watch too much TV. So grab your popcorn and chips and lets all sit down for an evening of Sesame Street and Paint by Numbers!! I can't wait!

    October 19, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  5. GetALife

    Really, Washington doesn't have more important matters to deal with. I'm getting frustrated with Washington dictating everything in our lives. I watched sports growing up, and yet I don't smoke or chew tobacco. I never wanted to. Sports figures aren't hero's, they are just people with a job in that can look up to them, you don't have to mimic them. Let parents do their job and educate their children on the dangers of tobacco (well, some parents take that kind of responsibility). I find it ironic that Washington wants this banned, yet it's alright for half of the senators and house reps to go out drinking and have extramarital affairs. Maybe when Obama can get off his re-election tour and quit blaming everyone else and do his job, the rest of Washington can too. Now get to work on real problems, that's why you were sent to Washington!

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

      DITTO... well put...

      October 19, 2011 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Eloise

    Yup...the land of the free....

    October 19, 2011 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Glenn

      And the home of the addicted! If they really want to help, ban this addictive cancer causing substance once and for all so that children can not even buy it in the first place.

      October 19, 2011 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
  7. woodrow

    Stupid anti-tobacco morons. Fascism is such an ugly thing. Tobacco isn't illegal because the people don't want it to be illegal. So quit wasting time harassing these people. We live in a free country. Quit trying to make this China.

    October 19, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Glenn

      Tobacco isn't illegal because of $$$ and taxes.

      October 19, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  8. snorcle

    Excellent. It gives youth players not to get habituated to this 'tobacco' in the form of 'style'. Good way to go. I am giggling looking at all those comments, that are not in favor. Poor smokers...sleep on it.

    October 19, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Ed

    Start worrying about the Economy.

    What's next? Telling hockey players not to fight in the Stanley Cup? Telling NBA players to cover up and gang tattoos in the NBA Championship? Telling Budweiser they can not advertise during the Super Bowl? Telling these guys you can not to drink after a victory? It's a choice, let them do it.

    You have people like Lil Wayne supporting gangs and cussing every other word in his "songs" and Lady Gaga dressing up in meat and cussing at President Clinton's concert and senators seem to not care about that.

    October 19, 2011 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
  10. socalpimp

    What do you expect from dumb jocks

    October 19, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  11. jonathan walser

    that is so silly they are grown men and if they wish to chew tobbacco let them do so. heck Jim Leyland, the manager of the Tigers and former Pirates manager used to smoke cigarettes in the dugout. I think the senate and congress need to worry about more important issues and stay out of magor leauge sports @!!!!

    October 19, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jon

    Oh silly politicians trying to control everything. Chewing tobacco, really? Should the kids look up to the political system and corporate America as a better influence. Chewing tobacco isn't going to tax you and leave you in debt and unemployed.

    October 19, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Baseball Sux

    Only white kids would follow their idiot baseball idols and chew tobacco

    October 19, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
  14. smokin11


    October 19, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  15. David

    The players are adults, who cares if they chew? It is ultimately the kids choice when it comes down to it anyway even if he or she is underage (yes some girls chew) so lets get over it.

    October 19, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
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