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. planethou

    How just banning spitting in general, that'll fix more than one issue. I get sick of watching the NON-STOP spitting...totally not necessary.

    October 19, 2011 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Ron

    Charles Barkley said it best "I AM NOT A ROLE MODEL"

    Parents can very easily tell their kids that "chew" is BAD FOR YOU and that they SHOULDN'T DO IT. It is not a baseball players job to RAISE OTHER PEOPLES CHILDREN. He is enjoying a product that doesn't hurt ANYONE ELSE. No second hand smoke etc. I'm SO TIRED OF THE "SAVE THE CHILDREN" MANTRA


    October 19, 2011 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Karen

    I have always thought it was awful that these guys chewed during the games in front of the impressionable kids. Tobacco is a drug, pure and simple. Allowing these guys to chew during games is saying it is okay to use drugs in this sport. They might as well have alcohol (another drug) in those gatorade coolers then (maybe they do!). Keep in mind, these senators are on the HEALTH committee, so they are doing their job by looking at health issues across the board. I do feel it should have come from MLB first, but someone needs to get the ball rolling on this. I'm glad Selig is addressing this for next year. Long overdue.

    October 19, 2011 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • local dude

      you are a idiot as you sit there with your martini in hand.

      October 19, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • scouser

      Do You even watch baseball....?? I'm thinking no...!! Why don't you get at a job, and maybe you could occupy your time with something more worth while...

      October 19, 2011 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Candice

      Chew and Alcohol are not NEARLY even close to being the same thing. I agree its a terrible habit but really you can't say things like that. Ban it everywhere baseball is not the soapbox for this.

      October 19, 2011 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • debbie

      Just STOP IT with your nonsense. Who are you to say that people should stop doing something? Aren't there more important health issues that these senators could take up than worrying about something that only a few do anyway? TEACH YOUR CHILDREN and it won't be a problem. The entire world cannot change just because you are unable to get the message across to your children. And for the record, my ex-father-in-law chewed but hardly any of his 10 kids did and they saw their father use it every single day. And they were on a farm where smoking is always prohibited. So who's going to be so influenced by a friggin ball player anyway?

      October 19, 2011 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • RHReese

      It's not the ballplayers job to teach your kids or be examples. This is their job. Do yours and teach your own kids and don't pass it off to anyone else what they should be taught.

      October 19, 2011 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Why don't you go and do what everyone in congress should... just up and off yourself and save us the pain of listening to you.

      Parents, you know what to do. Teach your kids what is right and wrong and you will see the world all of the sudden become a better place. This Karen gal isn't your kids mother and congress isn't their father to ban everything and protect your kids. So get off your lazy asses and be parents already!

      October 19, 2011 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse |
  4. midwestaveragejoe

    Go back to washington and do your job. This is what we as the voters get when we elect these jokers. On the other hand, if I work 50 hrs a week just to pay taxes to help pay for everyones "public" health insurance maybe they should legislate tobacco use. But leave the millionaire ballplayers alone...I'm not payingfor their healthcare. While you're at it, no fast food, mandated fruits and vegetable servings etc. Don't mention "freedom" of choice. If the government is forcing me to help pay for your healthcare then you should be forced to be healthy. Since nobody would ever go that much government interference then why do we accept healthcare is a "right?"

    October 19, 2011 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Mark

    Yep maybe the the ball players to now strach them selfs as well bed examples and all. They need to say what what political party the senators are their all dems. gofigure more goverment. I chewed don't now and nobody forced me to.

    October 19, 2011 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
  6. RHReese

    You know they have absolutely nothing better to do with their time like unemployment, economy and all else wrong in this country and they key in on chewing tobacco ? Our taxes hard at work,HUH?

    October 19, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Lynnsm

    I think the comment of "Not only is it unhealthy, the senators said, but it sends the wrong message to children who look up to the players" What about all the corruption and scandals generated by the politicians to include Senators, what kind of message are they sending? I say enough is enough. This is America and a person chewing tobacco has a god given right to do so in this country. It does not effect anyone but the adult person who chooses to do so, oh which they can supposedly do in this country. GET A LIFE DICK!

    October 19, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Candice

    That is dumb. I understand the point they are trying to make, but how is that the problem of the two teams that just battled for the whole year to get there. Make it a law for next year, to be started with the season. Not even that many do it. Its the parents job to tell their kids its not right. Get over it.

    October 19, 2011 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Geo

    I call for the million man CHEW in DC, we can chew and spit on the grounds these da_n senators need to worry about the country, no grown men chewing.

    October 19, 2011 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Cole

    Number 1. Doesn't our government have a lot more things to worry about? Like our education systems? Unemployment rate? the economy? Bringing our men and women home? I mean seriously?!? THIS is what they decide to go after? and people wonder why our country is faultering. These so called "officials" don't know their head from their asses. It's laughable really. I mean do these guys get together blind fold one of them and have them throw a dart at a board with problems listed on them, like a damn carnival game? If players want to dip let them dip. Nobody goes to their homes and tells them not to smoke or drink b/c its a bad influence to the younger generation. You tell one of those guys they can't have a drink or smoke and they would go balistic or just laugh in your face. But yet they will go after baseball players who play a game for a living. SENATORS, you guys aren't playing a game! You guys deal with real life issues, stuff that effects everyday life! Now, but down your man purses and do something productive!

    October 19, 2011 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Barry G.

      The money wasted on paying to treat smokers through Medicare and Medicaid is money that could be spent on education and other forms of aid for Americans.

      October 19, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Barry G.

    Could our government at least levy a tax on tobacco, which will cover the cost of treating patients for Emphysema, various forms of cancer, lost wages, higher insurance costs, higher health care costs, etc., which will undoubtedly fall upon the middle class tax payer through Medicaid and Medicare costs and other expenses?

    October 19, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Barry G.

    I suggest that our government at least levy a tax on tobacco, which will cover the cost of treating patients for Emphysema, various forms of cancer, lost wages, higher insurance costs, higher health care costs, etc., which will undoubtedly fall upon the middle class tax payer through Medicaid and Medicare costs and other expenses?

    October 19, 2011 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • debbie

      Oh you know wha? California did that and know what they did with the extra money? They used it to buy more birds to repopulate Yosemite National Park. Go google it if you don't believe me. Freakin birds because they had so much money in the fund set aside from the extra tax that they didn't know what to do with it – oh and they wouldn't pay anyone's medical expenses either. Seems nobody that smoked actually qualified for reimbursement. Funny, huh? God's honest truth there.

      October 19, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  13. firedude52

    Freedom of choice in this country is becoming a thing of the past. Once a foundation of our great nation is eroding away rapidly. Examples are the couple who were cited for conducting bible study in their San Diego home, religion woes and constraints, 12 year old girls getting inoculations without parent knowledge or consent, government telling individuals what they can and can't do ie; this article. Many other freedoms as well as parental rights being slowly taken away from us. They are no longer your kids as the government decides what's best for them not the parent :/ The government should worry more about world events, getting our troops home and the economy versus deciding a baseball player can or cannot use tobacco products. No wonder nothing is getting done. Most Senators are more concerned about stripping our rights versus getting what used to be a great country back where it once was......

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

    To look up to baseball players is extremely funny to me.
    The real ones to look up to are the PARENTS for providing shelter, food, and clothing for their own kids.
    To say baseball players are heroes is heartbreaking to every firefighter, police officer, ect.
    THOSE are the real the ones to look up to! Those are the one who risk their life!
    Now as to saying they should BAN chewing tobacco at a sport event is up for debate...
    I say if it’s for a televised children baseball game, then yeah ban it!
    It’s a game that’s geared towards kids so it is sending a wrong message.
    But we are the adults, and we should cater major league baseball towards children.
    Parents, guardian,.... ADULTS!
    OWE up and take responsibility for yourself and your own children.
    Talk to them! Educate them on what is wrong and what is right.
    I can hardly see the damage one baseball game showing only a small handful of players spitting chewing tobacco can cause, when us as a society is smoking (and chewing) right in front of them!

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

    So stupid. If they want to use tobacco, who cares?! Don't our senators have bigger things to worry about like say...the ECONOMY or THE WAR. Stop spending so much time on attacking personal freedoms and focus on the important things for once. No wonder nothing ever gets done.

    October 19, 2011 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
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