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. IR

    I agree that government should stay out of this - BUT, I have been watching baseball all year long and am disgusted with all that chewing and spitting! Sunflower seeds, or whatever kind of seeds they are chewing, are fine but please keep it in the dugout and keep the cameras away. Spitting should also be kept in the dugout. I watched as A-Rod was so busy chewing and spitting out pits at the plate, that he did not perform well. Although chewing gum is fine, but it should be kept out of the closeup cameras! It is the players themselves that should think about this - they are role models for millions of kids! Maybe if one of these guys slides (or falls) face first into a puddle of spit, they will actually be disgusted themselves. These guys should put some class back into the games - I have watched baseball for almost 50 years and in times past, even though there was alot of chewing tobacco, one never saw quite as much spitting! How about the managers? Where is the class? Salaries for these guys are very high - does this make them aloof? Tough enough to take a family to the games - please keep the spitting down and the cameras away! Thanks and I hope to enjoy many more years of watching the Nation's favorite pass-time.

    October 19, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chuck

      " I have been watching baseball all year long and am disgusted with all that chewing and spitting! " Then don't watch. And if you - and a lot of other people - don't watch, then the league will do something about it.

      October 19, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Russell

    I find it hard to believe that any member of either house is asking others to refrain from behavior that sets a bad example for others. Physician, heal thyself.

    October 19, 2011 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chuck

      Fortunately, our children don't watch c-span very much.

      October 19, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
  3. AllAboutThe80's

    I'm all for the ban. yes i want to see a ban on tobacco altogether however this is a good idea to me. Yes we should all monitor our children and know what they watch and explain what is good and bad HOWEVER many people do NOT monitor what their children see in the media. Americas favorite sport is actually pretty gross to watch. Do YOU enjoy seeing these drooling pigs on tv? Senators should focus on other topics but in the end I'm glad someone is saying something. They are trying to end the dependency on tobacco at an early age. Kids emulate what they see on TV and you all know that!

    October 19, 2011 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • jboHDrider

      I know you are all for a ban on anything you don't like. I bet you vote communist! It's not the governments job to regulate examples for our childern, that is the parents job.

      October 19, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chuck

      Mr. jboHDrider is exactly correct.

      October 19, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave1955

      So since jboHDrider is against the government trying to ban anything it doesn't like, is it safe to assume he's against the government trying to ban abortion?

      Didn't think so.

      October 19, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Rev. Christie Bliss. Ley

    Chewing tobacco has to be one of the most discussing habits, and should be banned in public places everywhere.

    October 19, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Rev. Christie Bliss. Ley

    Oops, I meant to say disgusting.

    October 19, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • mike

      i find obese people in swimsuits to be far more disgusting than smokeless tobacco. It is a life choice for them as well and I think it should be banned everywhere! Can we please have some more government regulation please?

      October 19, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  6. larry5

    Have these players that dip given up on kissing women?

    October 19, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  7. answerman28

    Not only is it unhealthy and sending the wrong message to kids, its completely disgusting. Ridiculously over paid, arrogant, jock imbeciles spitting all over the place in multimillion stadiums is not entertaining in the least. It’s insane our culture keeps pumping all the money into sports and has no problem just ignoring the billions of people around the world that are starving in desperate poverty. Do you think we could use a little perspective?

    October 19, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • jboHDrider

      Yes lets ban all fun activities until world poverty disappears. We can close all the beaches, and ski areas as well as the swimming pools our children use. I mean heck why should anyone be allowed to have fun until your socialist dream world becomes reality! I think we should limit the number of children people can have so that we can reduce poverty around the globe but your idea is much better, we can close all the sporting stadiums world wide and that will fix everything!

      October 19, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chuck

      Who is this "our culture?" Is it not us? Of course it is. If you don't like it, then don't watch it. And if you don't - and a lot of other people don't - then the leagues will make changes to their own game.

      October 19, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • answerman28

      If you really think its fun to poison yourself and teach kids to do it.. then thats your problem. The sports industry has got you just where they want. You've been brainwashed.

      October 19, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chuck

      No single raindrop ever thinks that it is responsible for the flood. Don't blame a problem on "our culture."

      October 19, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • whatguy

      Obese people in public is not just disgusting and unhealthy, it also sends the wrong message to children about how being obese is acceptable. Does anyone understand the billions they over spend on food in a year and how that food could be sent to starving children? Obese people should be banned by law from ever leaving their house until they have a healthy BMI so we don't expose our children to this horrible, disgusting, and unhealthy choice.

      and yes for those without a filter, that is all sarcasm. Just trying to show how little sense the chewing ban rant has.

      October 19, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Nicole

    Dear Mr. Baseball Player,

    We regret to inform you, but this week you will not only have to deal with the most pressure you’ve ever faced in your entire career while playing in the World Series, but you will also have to quit chewing. We, the US Government, have found something that hasn’t been regulated yet and, since we don’t have the confidence in our citizens to teach their children about the ills of chewing, we will do it for them. Effectively immediately, despite the fact that you are a grown man, you may no longer use chewing tobacco because it might send the wrong message, and we just can’t have that in this (free) country.


    Your government

    October 19, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  9. palintwit

    Today they want to ban chewing tobacco. Tomorrow it'll be anal s*x.

    October 19, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Church

      palintwit...ha ha..Actually some states have laws to ban that :).

      October 19, 2011 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jay

    Real athletes can't chew crap during their chosen event. Baseball, a non athletic event , is a good example of crap sport. Try doing something really athletic, like a triathlon while chewing junk. CANT BE DONE. Do away with all so called "sports" like baseball, basketball, and football.

    October 19, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • mike

      Mr. Real Athlete, lets see you step up to the plate and hit a 90mph slider from C.C. Triatholon is about endurance and it takes far more athletic ability (agility, strength, and speed combined) to play most all traditional sports than it does to run a triathlon. Get over yourself.

      October 19, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  11. gary wilson

    A friend of 40 yrs and sports fan smoked and dipped snuf. He recently died of cancer.

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

      I'm am very sorry for your loss. Losing a loved one is not easy. What I will say, though, is that it was your friend's choice to smoke and dip. No one forced him to do that; he wanted to. Also, I am willing to bet that, if given the choice between having a longer life and getting to smoke and dip, he would have chosen smoking and dipping because not doing so would have negatively impacted his quality of life. On second thought, I know that's what he would have chosen, because that is what he did do.

      October 19, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • @ gary wilson

      I knew a fellow that chewed tobacco and he developed a rare form of cancer of the face. It started in his cheek. Little by little they cut pieces of his face away to try to keep it from spreading. He ended up dying a horrible death.

      October 19, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  12. boka

    One more little freedom being slowly chipped away by the USA government. And people actually support this which is ridiculous. Morons.

    October 19, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Danno

    MLB is a private organization. The government has no business telling them how to run it. Baseball players have been chewing tobacco since its inception. And NOW its a problem????

    You don't have the right not to be annoyed or the right not to be disgusted. Don't like it, don't watch it. I thought everyone wanted less government interference in our lives. This is an insane amount of interference in an admittedly tiny "problem". Can we get back to reality?

    October 19, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chuck

      Mr. Danno is exactly correct.

      October 19, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  14. El Senor Sanchez

    Let's see, our country's economy is in the toilet, we mired down in another Vietnam in Afghanistan, but these Senators are focusing on the pressing problem of chewing tobacco in baseball? C'mon man.

    Even if MLB were to ban chewing, they can't do it on the eve of the WS. Players at least need some time to kick the nicotine addiction.

    October 19, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chuck

      "Let's see, our country's economy is in the toilet, we mired down in another Vietnam in Afghanistan, but these Senators are focusing on the pressing problem of chewing tobacco in baseball?"

      Mr. El Senor Sanchez makes an excellent point. Rome is burning and the Senate is fiddling.

      October 19, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  15. danny

    remember – the cost of treating cancer patients is spread out over all of us thru insurance ... we pay to treat retards who use tobacco

    October 19, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
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