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. OBX Lover

    Don't SENATORS have more important things to be worrying about?????

    October 19, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • palintwit

      They don't, now that Sarah Palin isn't going to run for president.

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

    I'm so glad our lawmakers are taking this important issue seriously, especially in our great economic crisis! While we are at it, lets get rid of any and everything that can cause one harm that is associated with MLB game!

    Fastballs, they have been know to hurt and even kill people before. I dont want my kids to see that on tv and start throwing fastballs at themselves or the others, so those are gone.

    Fans, they have been injured from jumping out onto the field and getting tazed by security, getting knocked out by fly balls, some people have even died at baseball games. I dont want my kids getting tazed or getting hit by fly balls, so they are gone.

    Hooch, while we watch the game, I see dozens of signs and commercials for beer, and there are usually easy women in these ads. I dont want my kids getting drunk and arrested or knocking up some floozy they met on the playground, so lets just get rid of all beer at baseball games and in the commercials.

    Bats, those things are basically clubs, medieval blunt weapons that do 1D6, very dangerous. I dont want my kids to bash each other’s heads in, so we have to get rid of the bats.

    Winning and losing, almost all games has a winner and a loser. This is very bad for the losing teams self-esteem. I dont want my kids to grow up with poor self-esteem either, so can we just not keep score and let everyone go home with a trophy at the end of the serious?

    There, now baseball is a safe as cute furry bunnies (who have had all their shots, been declawed, and lobotomized for your protection).

    October 19, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Al

      What you really should be worried about your children picking up is, um, ignorance.

      October 19, 2011 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • answerman28

      What an idiot.. please dont have any more kids.

      October 19, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |

      OMG this is about smoking not baseball lol

      October 19, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • will

      thank you so much. WHO CARES!!!!!!

      October 19, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • James

      Hey WiseGuy you are absolutely correct, they keep going down the slippery slope of eliminating our freedoms so we all can be "perfect" like them. It seems a guy named Adolf tried that once too. Too bad many will argue for the trip down the slippery slope, as long as they are not the current targets....they are hypocrites. We have more of them than tobacco users, can't wait until the 'perfect' wheel of lost freedom lands on their lifestyle choices.

      October 19, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Baseballfan

      LOL...I love it. Perfect example of just how silly some of this stuff becomes. Unfortunately, the two others who replied to your post apparently missed your tongue-in-cheek (or dip-in-cheek) point. With so many other real problems in our country it is hard to believe these idiot politicians actually took the time to comment on this.

      October 19, 2011 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Church

      Ha... You're right we should not have winners and losers for the MLB anymore like they've done at the Y. We don't want the children to have deal with that concept. It's not fair. This sets a bad example for the children. They shouldn't have to learn about dealing with failure or pain or anything like that. And by god, it's those evil players who chew that are responsible for the other's who start chewing. Dick is a panty waist.

      October 19, 2011 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • WiseGuy

      @Al I took your words to heart and just dropped my kids off at the fire station. I wouldnt want then to catch my ignorance 🙂 Thanks for the words of wisdom good sir!

      October 19, 2011 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
  3. John D

    Dipping is a repellant practice, but isn't it sort of what baseball's all about?

    What's next? A legislative ban on crotch-scratching?

    October 19, 2011 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • CB

      Dipping is not a "practice" – it's a choice, a freedom, hell it's even habit forming.
      Political correctness, loss of freedoms and liberty will end this country...

      October 19, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Al

    I was once hooked on this stuff too. It was one of the hardest things I ever overcame – took me more than 20 years. What few realize is, it's not adults who generally become addicted to nicotine. Adults just STAY addicted to it. It's young kids who get hooked and Senators asking players not to do it is 100% totally reasonable and the way PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY (republicans) is supposed to work.

    October 19, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hans "The Ramen Rater" Lienesch

      Uh, I quit smoking and it was hard but it literally didn't take any time at all to stop. To stop doing something just requires stopping and requires no time. It is impossible to be stopping for 20 years.

      October 19, 2011 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Al

      Well, Hans, you should learn about addiction and how nicotine affects different people differently. A good portion of users (about 30%) can walk away any time they like. Most of us are ADDICTED. Get it? It's an addiction. I'm glad for you that you could just put it down and it took no effort for you. Tell that to those who are dying of lung cancer or COPD and STILL smoking.

      October 19, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Baseballfan

      It's easy to give up dipping. I've done it a thousand times!

      October 19, 2011 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  5. K2

    Everyone knows all the cool kids smoke anyway.

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


      October 19, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • James

      It has always been 'cool' to do relatively harmless things (compared to driving a car) that make the veins on all the fascist 'Adolfs', in our midst, foreheads nearly pop. This is about liberty and who owns our bodies. We all seem to be servants of DC these days, time for another revolution is approaching.

      October 19, 2011 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jony3322

    Hey! Senate and Congress you guys need to focus on JOBS. You need to protect the US companies that still have their factories here in US by penalizing the companies that are outsourcing jobs to China.

    October 19, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • palintwit

      The republicans will never take on anything to do with China.

      October 19, 2011 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
  7. RLong

    Tobacco contains nicotin, a performance enhancing drug. ( it relaxes your nerves) Get rid of it and keep leveling the field.

    October 19, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  8. mr. skoal

    Just a pinch between the cheek and gum..mmmmmmmmm

    October 19, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  9. mndude

    So the player puts the dip in before they enter the field, on camera; in fans' view. Problem solved. Besides, a 13 year old will have to have some h*ll of good vision to see what they're doing out there.

    October 19, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jim A.

    Senators, instead of paying attention to some baseball players, why don't you concentrate on things that are important to this country and it's people (i.e. JOBS, JOBS, JOBS, taxes, the economy, etc.)

    October 19, 2011 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |

    As a kid I personally DO NOT recommend this especially at a young age I agree with this they should ban this or only use this for people in rehab that are trying to get rid of their addiction or "problems"


    October 19, 2011 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
  12. toby

    The dangers of using moist snuff is infinitesimal compared to other substances (i.e. alcohol, cigarettes). In fact, more life-long smokers would do well to switch (if they can't quit) to smokeless tobacco than to continue using cigarettes. I know there are many who will condemn me for making these statements about smokeless tobacco, but ask yourself-how many people die each year using Copenhagen, Skoal, or Redman? Extraordinarily few-so few in fact that it doesn't even make the CDC's Leading Causes of Death list; even the top 100 causes! And yet this attempt at social engineering is costing lives by pricing a nearly harmless product out of reach of those (cigarette smokers) who could benefit by its substantial reduction in harm. Tell the government and anti-tobacco league to stay the hell out of personal choice and stop attempting to create a utopian police state with their costly (and not just money) ideas. Peace.

    October 19, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Al

      That's pretty much how I became a dipper for about 20 years. A little dip here and there as kid, smoking as a teen, wanting to remain an athlete as an adult so I used dip. I do agree that it is way better than cigs but that may not be true for everyone. I did not experience too much gum loss and I take care of my body so I think that helped. But, many wind up with head and neck cancers which are very difficult to cure... Dip may be safer but it's not an order of magnitude safer.

      October 19, 2011 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Brian

    Give me a break. The children also shouldn't look up to our over paid, lying, stealing, and self serving senators. Who's going to make the laws to stop them from engaging in political fraud and cover ups year after year? As screw it, none of that is important. Ridding chew from the World that's what's important. Priorities. What a joke.

    October 19, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Church

      You are dead on. This is typical. I am so tired of reading about stuff like this. I guess I probably ought to stop reading CNN it always does this to me.

      October 19, 2011 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Bill in VA

    This is a prime example of what is wrong with our government. While I couldn't dream of using smokeless tobacco why does the government have to be involved. With real problems to deal with why even bring this up. Ridiculous. tOf course they are Democrats who want the government to do everything. Not surprising to see a Dick (and coincidentally it is his name) leading this effort.

    October 19, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  15. RandallC

    Politicians need to stay away from sports. And if there is something being shown that could influence children, then the parents should try to actually do some PARENTING and teach their kids; to actually speak up and tell the kids that some of the things they see people do are not for the kids to imitate. My kids look to me and my wife as their role models and sources of guidance, not an athelete or celebrity or politician. I don't need the Senate to protect my children from bad influences.. that's my job and I do it well. The senators need to shut up.

    October 19, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
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