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. Jangocat

    These clowns can't pass a jobs bill but they have time to pander to anti tobacco lobbyists? MLB players are grown men, they can make their own choice whether they want to exercise their legal right to use chewing tobacco. Parents need to raise their own kids and stop blaming others for influencing them. Your kids are not MLB players problem, they are your problem, deal with it.

    October 19, 2011 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Todd in DC

      They aren't doing this for the ball players. They are doing this so that some 8 year old doesn't look at them chewing tobacco and think, Hey that looks cool.

      October 19, 2011 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
    • mjinmd

      I just wonder how many of you came to the support of smokers when their rights were being taken from them? And still are for that matter. I personally find it disgusting that any sports player has to constantly spit on the ground, whether there is chewing tobacco in there or not. And to see the coach stuffing his mouth full of it is equally disgusting.

      October 19, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • scouser

      I would hope these 8 year olds have parents who explain to them the dangers of tobacco... If not I'm a teacher, and I know its mentioned in school... It just an excuse for these senators to divert our attention from the fact that they're useless.. And simple minded morons who actually aagree with them... I wonder why the countries falling apart... ??

      October 19, 2011 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
  2. LiberalsSuck

    Idiots. You morons in the government should pull your head out of you know where and STOP social engineering, spending money we don't having, stop regulations, and get this economy back on track. Durbin, you and that moron Frank are fools. You should resign before you do anymore damage to the United States. Jerks. And STOP voting for these IDIOTS. What's wrong with you people?!

    October 19, 2011 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Todd in DC

      Or, you could be a better parent and tell your kids the dangers of chewing tobacco.

      Or not. It's not my kid.

      October 19, 2011 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
  3. Rich

    Our minor league stadium banned tobacco – I haven't been to a game since.

    October 19, 2011 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
    • Todd in DC

      Guess that makes you a drug addict.

      October 19, 2011 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
    • local dude

      or make todd a toad............idiot

      October 19, 2011 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  4. SimpleCommonSense

    Why not just make tobacco illegal. Think of the Billion$ and Billion$ of dollar$ our society would save in medical costs. And the Billion$ and Billion$ of your tax dollar$ that subsidize the tobacco companies.

    October 19, 2011 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
    • nightshade.

      They won't make it illegal because of the loss in billions and billions of dollars of tax revenue. Besides the tobacco czars are lining their pockets.

      October 19, 2011 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
    • darthwilson

      Because we live in a free country! The government should not be telling us what we can put in our own bodies! Maybe you should try China, sound like more you kind of country!

      October 19, 2011 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
    • dannyuc

      Why not take away other liberties/choices as well? Perhaps the right to eat fast food? Maybe the government (because they should choose our liberties – not us stupid individuals) should decide what we can eat, drink, wear, consume and maybe they can tell us when and where to poop too! It would be great not to have any choices any more. I feel the more choices I have the more I get confused – and the less choices I have the more I feel like a docile sheep (of which I enjoy). That’s ‘simplecommonsense’ – right?
      Most simpletons prefer to let others decide things for you, but don’t make my decision up for me.

      October 19, 2011 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Todd in DC

      Um, Darth, you just explained why cocaine, heroin, and the other illegal drugs should all be legal – because we live in a free country. Was that your intention? Cigarettes kill more people than all other drugs. There is no "healthy" level of smoking (while there is a healthy level of drinking alcohol).

      October 19, 2011 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
    • dannyuc

      Todd – yes, everything should be legal. It shouldn't be up to a group of people (governement, health board, some czar) to be able to tell you want you consume and what you dont. If I wanted to consume rat poison, it should be my choice as it is my body. Why are liberals so keen on letting the government tell them how they should live there lives?

      October 19, 2011 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
    • scouser

      Todd in DC... You are an idiot... Who cares about statistics of smoking... This is not the issue... The actual article about chewing tobacco is alos not the issue... These senators are useless... Are countruy suffers becuse of this type of leadership, and if they can divert yor pea brian from the real issues, than they won't have to actually adrees the important items... Poeple will abuse their bodies with numerous things, like fast food, lack of exercise and in some cases over exercising... People need to wake up and understand the a clss revoultion is beginnign around the world, and they better be ready to stand up and fight, for a decent standrad of life that we taken for granted .. We've become lazy, but uits time to dig in and take whats yours.....

      October 19, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • In my Opinion

      Past history (prohibition) showed us what happens when you make something illegal people want.....

      October 20, 2011 at 9:21 am | Report abuse |
  5. Jim

    Sure SCS, prohibition worked like a charm!

    October 19, 2011 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
  6. jowl

    Give me a break!! These liberals want to LEGALIZE marijuana clinics but we can't let people have chewing tobacco OH NO!!

    Can't stand Dick Durbin.

    October 19, 2011 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
    • SimpleCommonSense

      Marijuana never harmed anyone. Tobacco kills.

      October 19, 2011 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
    • jowl

      So Marijauana smoking isn't bad for your health? huh?

      October 19, 2011 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
    • CDQ

      @ jowl
      I think you're missing the point. No one should smoke marijuana, cigarrettes or do tobacco while on the clock (working). Outside of the clock yea they can do that if they want.

      October 19, 2011 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
  7. CDQ

    Those baseball players while they're team is playing is in a professional environment.

    SO they should not be allowed to smoke or use tobacco, when pretty much every other job in the states prohibits its employees to use tobacco products inside their building walls.

    After work, or after the baseball game in this article's case, the players can do whatever they want.

    October 19, 2011 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Chase

      Agreed that it is the same thing, but it is up to the owners of the companies to make these rules. If my company wants to allow chewing tobacco then it is fine. It is not up to the government to decide that. The only time that is acceptable is in a public place with smoking like restaurants. But, smokeless tobacco is not harmful to the public.

      October 19, 2011 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
  8. Carlos B.

    As Bob F said, its up to the parents to educate their kids on the harmfulness of tobacco use. Its not the professional athletes job to educate kids. These guys get payed to play professional baseball not raise other peoples kids. Now the what is disturbing is seeing this Senators wasting time on what a couple of pro athletes are doing instead of concerning themselves on the country's financial problems.

    October 19, 2011 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
    • JK

      Carlos B. of course we need to educate our kids on tobacco...nobody is saying anything to the contrary. However, the kids impression is that their heroes have a great lifestyle, make tons of money, can be in shape and still chew tobacco. They only see them in their glorious moments. They will never see them in later years having jaw removal surgery, etc. So in the backs of their little minds, they reason that parents are wrong, it looks cool, so when Mom and Dad aren't around they will do it. Dude, it's a small concession to ask. Just don't chew during the game. Afterwards, you can chew to your hearts content. Hell, they shouldn't have to make it a ban, if the players were really stand-up and cared about the well being of their little fans THEY should step up and volunteer not to do it.

      October 19, 2011 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
  9. jowl

    Why don't these luminaries send HOLLYWOOD a letter, telling them to STOP USING STEROIDS, because the constant barrage of steroid-made CUT MEN on TV & Movies is INCREASING steroid use.

    But no.. liberals politicans don't say a freaking WORD about HOLLYWOOD, ever.

    October 19, 2011 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
    • Bertie

      Oh, the mention Hollywood and steroids in an article about drug abuse in baseball. A far greater percentage of MLB players use steroids than actors in Hollywood. Hasn't that been proven over the last decade?

      October 20, 2011 at 6:38 am | Report abuse |
  10. duke1025

    IIt's not baseball with out chewing tobacco, hi and tight chin warmer brush back pitches, the scratching of personal areas...let them play and you raise your kids...Jesus, you would think these politicians would have more to do...oh yea, sorry there politicians....

    October 19, 2011 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
    • CDQ


      IIt's not baseball with out chewing tobacco, hi and tight chin warmer brush back pitches, the scratching of personal areas...let them play and you raise your kids...Jesus, you would think these politicians would have more to do...oh yea, sorry there politicians....

      No offense, if thats a major part of baseball, then no wonder this country has health problems. We idolize sports where the players are inactive, do tobacco and scratch their private parts WHILE working.

      October 19, 2011 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Chase

      Sports. The activity of inactivity. That makes sense.

      October 19, 2011 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
    • gano_b

      CDQ... it is not the right of anyone to tell an employer what is allowed or not allowed. I also don't get to throw things or swing bats at my job either. What... you've never seen a mechanic, construction worker, or ditch digger doing their job with a cigarette hanging out of their mouth? It's NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS. When the owners decide they don't want it done on the job then they can say so... not a bunch of idiots in the government.

      October 19, 2011 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
    • CDQ

      @ gano_b
      But if their smoking effects other people via second hand smoking then yes IT IS SOMEONE's BUSINESS.
      Why should there unhealthy habits have to effect others??

      October 19, 2011 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
  11. Mike

    Sens. Durbin, Frank Lautenberg, Richard Blumenthal, Tom Harkin, and Mr Meyers. With this country in the shape it's in it's disappointing to the citizens you serve that you don't use your educations and social statures collectively to do something productive to help the country. Isn't that part of the oath you swore to when you became what you are? Spending money to "politic" an organization using the kids as your flag. Come on. Really? Is that all you've got?
    Get a clue.

    October 19, 2011 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
  12. riches

    Trust me. The little kids watching baseball aren't checking out if their favorite player is chewing tobacco or not. They probably don't even know. This is an absolute joke. If these Senators have enough time to push this nonsense they obviously shouldn't be a Senator.

    October 19, 2011 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
  13. Chase

    It is not up to the players to set the example. It is up to the parents. Our freedoms are getting stripped from us daily. I agree with senators or whoever requesting that the players take it into consideration, but it is their right to do what they want.

    October 19, 2011 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
    • CDQ


      It is not up to the players to set the example. It is up to the parents. Our freedoms are getting stripped from us daily. I agree with senators or whoever requesting that the players take it into consideration, but it is their right to do what they want.


      while those players are on the clock ie. working, THEY SHOULD NOT be able to do whatever they want. It's just like any other job, you can't smoke, do tobacco while on the clock.

      How hard is this for you guys to understand?

      October 19, 2011 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
    • jowl

      Why is CDQ talking like baseball players aren't allowed to be doing this?

      They can, and they are. Yes, some liberals don't like it. Too bad.

      Liberals don't always have to win.

      October 19, 2011 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Chase

      Its not hard to understand. I understand where you are coming from. But your collectively making a decision for all companies, businesses and jobs. When they should be treated separate and fairly. And the baseball team is not harming anyone in the stadium by dipping. I agree with them requesting this from the players, but making it mandatory is wrong.

      October 19, 2011 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
    • James R. Hunt


      Ummm you might not be able to but others can and are allowed

      October 19, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Chris

    These lawmakers should really learn the law before they start wielding their influence! This issue is collectively bargained and MLB cannot just decide to ban it now because some Senators decided to grandstand! Selig has openly stated he wants to rid the game of it and it already is banned in the minors. It will be an issue during the next round of talks which is the appropriate time. Plus, whether we like it or not, some of these guys are addicted. I don't think the union is going to agree to mess with guys withdrawing from nicotine in the middle of the most important games of the season!

    October 19, 2011 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
  15. rcfcabo

    Wow they got time to do this in washington what about all the real problems we face in this country like the jobs that people need to keep themselves going in life. They say unemployement is coming down that is BS as they don't count the people who have used all the benifits they have and are still unemployed. Our people in washington still have there heads up there A_ _ and it is deeply implanted there.

    October 19, 2011 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
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