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. Karim

    World series huh? What other countries play in the Major league?

    October 20, 2011 at 12:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Ryan

      Canada. /joke

      October 20, 2011 at 12:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Sea bass

      Almost all of Latin america

      October 20, 2011 at 1:35 am | Report abuse |
  2. Jim

    Wow!! As if the economy isn't bad enough already!!! This is congress' ploy to "save America"? By beating an already hurting tobacco industry? Don't get me wrong I'm not praising an image for our youth to be getting hooked on tobacco but I thought we were passed all this. People know the risks and they make choices. Period! its that simple. I'm in Iraq right now! Hopefully not for much longer but I knew the risk when I volunteered to come here and I made a decision to do so. I think congress is sending the wrong message here, and that message is "We want you to look, act, and be how we decide we want you to" and they enforce it using mass Psychogical measures like this BS. Sounds like propaganda to me. America doesn't force its citizens behave a certain way! At least it better not because thats one of the few things I can still say that i like about living there! And yes I use tobacco but I can honestly say that I accept the risk because I enjoy tobacco. As a matter of fact I think I'm going to put a chew in right now before I go to work with my fellow Soldiers, Airmen, and civilian counterparts keeping our country safe from all these crazies over here who want to force all of us one day to live "their way"!!!

    October 20, 2011 at 12:29 am | Report abuse |
    • miketaylor

      thank you for serving and volunteering to fight for our freedom i dont think the government should be allowed to tell us what to do they are worried abount tobacco use as i recall its the government that makes pain medicine that our fellow americans get addicted to and some overdose and die and they keep giving them to people and our economy is shot and they worry abount tobacco this sounds like communism to me or a dictatorship

      October 20, 2011 at 5:15 am | Report abuse |
  3. jahansen28x13t1p25

    i believe tobacco should be allowed- smokless and not- similar to the old days like when Babe was playin'. . .

    however they should also show complete and comprehensive hair, urine, and blood test results beside each player's profile as well- namely the Rangers. . . . . .

    if we can watch 'em chew we oughta also be able to see all the other stuff they be pumpin' into their bodies/temples. . .

    October 20, 2011 at 12:32 am | Report abuse |
    • jahansen28x13t1p25

      Oops, i meant

      October 20, 2011 at 12:33 am | Report abuse |
    • jahansen28x13t1p25

      lotta kids lookin' up to these alternative to steroids doped up superstars and thinkin' it's normal to be/look/play like that. . . . . .

      October 20, 2011 at 12:35 am | Report abuse |
  4. ScFdotdr

    They shouldn't ban tobacco from the major league. I mean take for example alcohol. People drink alcohol and have a good time but they also know the risks involved. It can destroy your liver and cause you to be disoriented and numb but hey its legal ain't it (over 21). It's also legal to smoke cigarettes (over 18). So why can't American's (MLB players) throw a big pinch of Copenhagen in their mouths? Their American's just like everyone else and have the same rights as the rest of us. This is just the government over stepping its boundaries and trying to micromanage everyone and determine what YOU can do to YOUR body.

    October 20, 2011 at 12:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      I liked the way you said it better!!!

      October 20, 2011 at 12:53 am | Report abuse |
  5. mmi16

    So Congress doesn't have any problems in the country to solve with the economy, health care, foreign relations so they have time to take on tobacco use in baseball?

    Congress has become worthy of the Clown Cars for the Ringling Brothers Circus. They are the laughing stock of the entire world.

    October 20, 2011 at 1:09 am | Report abuse |
    • larry5

      Don't forget the clown in the executive branch of government. Remember that Bush was involved in baseball so this is also his fault, too.

      October 20, 2011 at 2:57 am | Report abuse |
  6. Evan

    This is not the government's job. If it's really such a big deal, then MLB should deal with this in-house.

    October 20, 2011 at 1:12 am | Report abuse |
  7. M.K.

    As Phil Harris might have said it, "chew, chew, chew that copenhagen. Chew, chew chew it, till you chew yourself to death. Tell St. Peter at the golden gates that you hate to make him wait, but you just have to have another chew.

    October 20, 2011 at 1:30 am | Report abuse |
  8. Miss Etta


    October 20, 2011 at 1:48 am | Report abuse |
  9. Sita Rama

    Really? How about setting an example as elected politicians and pass a freaking jobs bill.

    October 20, 2011 at 1:58 am | Report abuse |
  10. Justin

    Oh give me a break! I thought this was the land of the free? This country was built on tobacco as well as other farming products and now politicians are trying to say when and where you can use it? They have upped tobacco tax banned smoking in certain places and now there trying to ban the players from using tobacco during the world series? Well if they want to do that then i think the players shouldn"t be taxed on their earnings this year! Yea it sounds stupid right? just like this idea that the senators have came up with!

    October 20, 2011 at 2:34 am | Report abuse |
  11. larry5

    Are the players that dip the ones that don't date or marry women?

    October 20, 2011 at 2:54 am | Report abuse |
  12. jahansen28x13t1p25

    They should just make all the players drink and let the spectators chew, spit and smoke

    then, with the roles reversed, similar to regualr nightly entertainment, the emphasized coverage would be geared towards alcohol consumption. . . 😉

    all kidding aside, what more? no more bleacher shots cause someun' might have styrofoam cup or koozi and a bottle of Bud???

    October 20, 2011 at 3:13 am | Report abuse |
  13. Mike

    The children in the Senate should be seen and not heard. How dare they spout what's decent for children to see and hear. I have always wondered...if smoking and tobacco related products are so bad for us, how come they are still on the market? Unleaded gas was bad for us, saccharin (?) was bad for us, many, many drugs were bad for us and they banned them? What's up? Money talks and BS walks.

    October 20, 2011 at 5:12 am | Report abuse |
  14. Quincey9

    I'll give up my dip when you pry it from my cold dead lip. I'm not spittin' in anyone else's lungs. If I'm hurting anyone it's me... and that's MY business. God bless the United States of America and the men and women that make her FREE.

    October 20, 2011 at 5:18 am | Report abuse |
  15. drchronicusa

    If we arrest and jail people for using cannabis, why is tobacco legal?

    October 20, 2011 at 6:52 am | Report abuse |
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