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. PaulMN

    More government in our shorts telling us how we have to live our lives... sigh....

    October 19, 2011 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dude

      Right on! I am getting tired of the government getting in my life and saying "If you want to go shopping you have to inhale second hand smoke and step in puddles of tobacco spit".

      October 19, 2011 at 6:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Abnguy

      Right on Dude, we should not have to smell others perfume, or see to much skin (or ankles) or read those t-shirt sayings we need some common sense legislation banning anything inconvenient, uncomfortable (at least to 2% of people) or possibly individualistic. How are we to be good drones without a lot of laws.

      October 19, 2011 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • OscarInTheTrashCan

      You guys are taking the bait. They are distracting you with this trivial stuff so that you forget about how much they have screwed up with our economy. We need to stop listening to this small stuff they point at and keep getting on their backs about what the true problem they should be worrying about.

      October 19, 2011 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • TT

      "and step in puddles of tobacco spit". Yes. Whenever I go to the mall I bring an inflatable raft so that I can cross the sea of tobacco spit. And think of the children. Do you want your children wading through oceans of spit? DO YOU?

      October 19, 2011 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
  2. kls817

    The government has no business worrying about baseball.
    That being said, baseball players are disgusting. I can't even stand to watch it anymore because of the spitting. When the camera zooms in on the pitcher as he stares down the batter, and then a big spit comes out of his mouth, it makes me sick. Again, baseball players are a bunch of low-lifes.

    October 19, 2011 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bons

      Pretty well-off low lifes!!

      October 19, 2011 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • mmr15

      If they are such low lifes, then why are they making 10 times the money you make?

      October 19, 2011 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Martin

      I agree with you. Of course them being low-lifes has nothing to do with the how much money they have. There are plenty of rich low-lifes. The two moron's who responded are about as dumb as a retarded clam.

      October 19, 2011 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
  3. DJ Apple

    It is the 21st century, and tobacco is just not acceptable. Why would these multi-millionaire baseball players even need tobacco? Stress? It's time to ban tobacco altogether from baseball parks. Let the children see chewing gum chewed and seeds spat.

    October 19, 2011 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • dingodog

      Not acceptable?? to who, you. Why don't parents start talking to their kids and explain how bad and dumb it is instead of trying to be their kids friends. by the way most parents act these days I think teaching your OWN kids right or wrong has become unacceptable in the 21st century.

      October 19, 2011 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • rkyo

      Let's just ban everything that you don't like, moron.

      October 19, 2011 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andrew

      Obviously you are a lobbyist for the powerful chewing gum/sunflower seed industry.

      October 19, 2011 at 7:22 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Markpro

    Insanity, pure insanity.

    October 19, 2011 at 6:00 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Alan Jarman

    If Major League Baseball decided it wanted to change it's policy, it certainly wouldn't START that during the World Series. Second, it isn't illegal to chew tobacco regardless of anyone's personal opinion or choice. This is a shocking display of out of control political correctness by people who have far more important things they should be focused on. Telling other adults how to live is oppressive and crass. PS I don't use tobacco

    October 19, 2011 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • hi man

      Couldn't agree with u more

      October 19, 2011 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dude

      Let them chew all they want. Just don't spit.

      When I was in high school every water fountain was full of tobacco spit, every sidewalk was slippery with tobacco spit and every planter stunk of tobacco spit.

      Kind of hard for me to feel for the rights of tobacco spitters.

      October 19, 2011 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Larry

    Let them be. You are not their parents.

    October 19, 2011 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Pinch_tween_the_cheek_and_gum

    Why doesn't MLB just move the games later so virtually NO kids will see them. They already start them so late that kids either only see part of the game, or have to stay up way too late.

    While we're at it, let's make it illegal to smoke in public. It's disgusting to see someone taking a drag off their cigarette and having to smell the smoke.

    October 19, 2011 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Lindsey Koehler

    The U.S. government needs to learn what its function is—and isn't. Butting into people's personal lives and personal habits—things that are not illegal—is NOT one of its functions. If someone wants to smoke, chew tobacco, eat fast food, drink 100 sodas a day, etc. that's his or her choice. It is a parent's function to explain to his or her children that while every person has a choice to do what he or she pleases when it comes to choices like these, that chewing tobacco is not good for your health, that fast food might not be a healty option, that soda is high in sugar, etc. I'm a very proud American, but our government needs to focus less on the personal choices of its citizens.

    October 19, 2011 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • i love lips

      Exactly! They have more important things they "should" b doing

      October 19, 2011 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • omgoodnessagain

      no wonder nothing of any value is happening in the senate. Since when is it the governments dahm business who smokes, drinks or chews a wad? They really should have better things to do with the time I AM PAYING THEM FOR.

      And this is the kind of 'nanny' state the Occupy Wall Street sloths want. More 'daddy's' making the adult decisions for them that they are too lazy and inept to make for themselves.... brilliant, just utterly brilliant.

      October 19, 2011 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Johnnyboy

    Ball players are grown men who can make their own decisions, and I say let them dip if they want too. If this whole thing is about the image that ball players convey to kids, cancer, ect. then parents should teach their kids right from wrong if they feel this is bad. The legislators should let the ball players play some good ball, and let the parents do the job of parenting. Some guys like to dip, and some don't. Do we really need the government to tell us who can dip? There have got to be more pressing issues going on right now...Time to move on to the end of the ball season with the world series!

    October 19, 2011 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse |
  10. OrphanAndy

    It's baseball fro crying out loud. Chewing, spitting and grabing your crotch to adjust your cup is all part of the game. Get over it!

    October 19, 2011 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
  11. mike yates

    More government telling what we can and can not do??!! ENOUGH!! What??!! Like the cameras don't pick up all the beer drinkers/boozers that the "kids" see??!! Why not go further in government thinking and have all the fans give up their booze during the game to set an example for all the "kiddies". This is so truly is a' Mad Mad World'!! There are more important issues at hand in this country....

    October 19, 2011 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • omgoodnessagain

      Funny, those senators didn't say anything about killing a fan who accidently spills a beer on another fan. No outrage from the senate, or any government official about that. Yeah, we have laws, but for pete sake, they need to get some perspective here.

      October 19, 2011 at 7:03 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Lisa Mcdaniel

    Its sad that they pick on the smokers, and people who chew tobacco etc, but it's ok to sell alcohol at the games, and the politicians are worried the kids will start chewing tobacco. What about their parents who drink don't you think it is likely they might do the same. I haven't heard of a crash involving someone chewing tobacco at a game but I have gotten bodies from people leaving a game from to much alcohol, and with children in the car. The politicians are one-sided and are discriminating and singling out people. If athletes want to chew tobacco let them and our government should mind their business, I bet they had a few drinks when they came out with this dumb idea.

    October 19, 2011 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • mikeyatesusa

      So what's the government going to tell us next??!! No smoking cigars on the Golf course!!!

      October 19, 2011 at 7:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dana

      Jesus is not walking among us in the form of athletes. Save that position for the Parents and Priests.

      October 19, 2011 at 7:46 pm | Report abuse |
  13. DesMoiner

    NANNY STATE! The United Nanny States of amerika is getting as bad as the UK. Here's an idea, why don't we get back to minding our own business.

    October 19, 2011 at 7:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dana

      Some of us call it, That's Life. I'm glad I'll not be alive for the coming of the United States of Ant Farms.

      October 19, 2011 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse |
  14. mark nelson

    I think they should all be required to wear more body armor and helmets like football players do. So should the fans. Those balls are hard and someone could get hurt. I think the legislature has not gone far enough to save us from ourselves. The legislature should make laws about every single thing where someone could even possibly get hurt, or even have their feelings hurt. That's why we hire them right? To make laws to protect us from ourselves. We should probably make government 10 times bigger than it is so it can do a better job so people are happy and don't get hurt.

    October 19, 2011 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dana

      You,You,You democrat you !

      October 19, 2011 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Dana

    You know I dislike Baseball. I find it the most feminine of sports. It used to be a sport but today, not, but if the players accept this ban and play and not boycott the series to tell the senators or commissioner to kiss my WHAT??????, then this just shows how Baseball has become feminine. Next it will be adjusting Their packages and you know what I mean.

    October 19, 2011 at 7:34 pm | Report abuse |
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