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. Flunkymomo

    Why does an OWS story re-direct here? Holy gotdamn laffo

    October 20, 2011 at 7:08 am | Report abuse |
    • Corrington

      Occupy World Series?

      October 20, 2011 at 8:08 am | Report abuse |
  2. pittsburgh07

    Wow congress needs to focus on all the problems the country is having like 2 wars, slumping economy, and most of all reduction of the deficit not worrying about what baseball players are doing at work.

    October 20, 2011 at 7:11 am | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      It is easier to pick on the people then fix problems.

      October 20, 2011 at 7:33 am | Report abuse |
  3. lol

    I wouldn't worry. No one's watching the World Series anyway.

    October 20, 2011 at 7:15 am | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      10 million plus are.

      October 20, 2011 at 7:32 am | Report abuse |
  4. chswad

    The working class will continue to suffer as long as our lawmakers(both sides) are allowed to take bribes from big money.

    October 20, 2011 at 7:16 am | Report abuse |
  5. Guest

    I see nothing wrong with this

    After all,they make thousands of dollars just to play baseball,it wouldnt hurt them to set an example for those who look up to them and pay their salaries.After all,every kid needs a good ol role model,and not one that will crumble like we had in the 80s.Most of those people just fell apart.

    October 20, 2011 at 7:24 am | Report abuse |
    • JS

      Congress doesn't have the authority.

      October 20, 2011 at 7:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      Why don't you be a the role model for your kid. Next – if they don't like your hair cut they'll want to change that too.

      October 20, 2011 at 7:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Patties

      Chewing and smoking tobacco is bad for you, its a bad influence on kids who look up to these athletes. Its the right thing to do anyway. Force it on them. Yes, thats what I said. Force it on them. Suck it.

      October 20, 2011 at 8:12 am | Report abuse |
    • tim

      I just found out that baseball players frequently chew tobacco while they play like 2 years ago(I'm 18). I always thought they were eating sunflower seeds; for the most part kids are oblivious. Its stuff like this article or the action of trying to stop it that brings it too our attention.

      October 20, 2011 at 8:16 am | Report abuse |
  6. Matt

    What happened to freedom? They are grown men that can do what they want.

    October 20, 2011 at 7:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Concerned American

      Pussificaton of America. Senators don't you have some bigger issues to deal with?

      October 20, 2011 at 8:52 am | Report abuse |
  7. Matt

    "Sens. Durbin, Frank Lautenberg, Richard Blumenthal and Tom Harkin, who is the Senate Health Committee chairman"

    Thanks CNN – that is all I needed to know. Attention: Four more Sens. needed that can mind their own Biz...

    October 20, 2011 at 7:37 am | Report abuse |
  8. Marty

    Tobacco and spitting are more an issue for the surgeon general or local health officials. There are laws, for health reasons, why spitting is not allowed in public. MLB should be setting a good example for youngsters. Little league players should be prohibited from spitting (maybe they are now) and if supported by MLB, when they become adults we will be able to watch a televised ballgame without honkers flying across the dugout and pitching mound.

    October 20, 2011 at 8:08 am | Report abuse |
  9. larrydavid

    Tile should read "Senators Push for Ban on Civil Liberties".

    October 20, 2011 at 8:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Concerned American


      October 20, 2011 at 8:53 am | Report abuse |
  10. MIke T

    We need Ron Paul!!!!

    October 20, 2011 at 8:30 am | Report abuse |
  11. Hahaaaaaa

    Lol everyone watches the world series. But anyways, tabbacco should be banned from all of sports as a whole. It just ruins the reputation of players and its a bad influence towards the children and students that watch baseball. Its jut not right

    October 20, 2011 at 8:31 am | Report abuse |
  12. Steve

    If it offends you then don't watch it. STOP taking away our freedoms no matter how bad they are for a person. Fix the crap you were elected to fix and stop wasting people's time. Oh, by the way, maybe you can kiss my A S S!!!!! It's no wonder why America is nothing but a group of crying whimps anymore!

    October 20, 2011 at 8:32 am | Report abuse |
  13. jb1963

    This gets bipartisan support but jobs no way. I think what they are doing is a good thing but come on. It can wait until we have the big problems solved

    October 20, 2011 at 8:44 am | Report abuse |
  14. Roger Dodger

    Occupy Tobacco Factories! Oh wait, that would be working and not "protesting". Never mind.

    October 20, 2011 at 8:44 am | Report abuse |
  15. harley m

    what has happen to freedom in US

    October 20, 2011 at 8:47 am | Report abuse |
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