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. Australian/USA fan

    I honestly can't believe the apathy that I am seeing in relation to people watching the series. Who cares about about smoking or chew – this is our championship!!
    Its American!!!!!! and at this point very important to the people concerned – if you dont like it go and watch some other crap on TV but leave our game alone. I don't support either the Cards or the Texans (Pittsburgh – Yea ) but I love watching the game and I am tired of hearing negative and judgemental comments.

    October 20, 2011 at 8:50 am | Report abuse |
    • Lean6

      Yeah...sure long as illegal Cuban Cigars and ridiculously expensive bottles of wine remain depicted as symbols of success, or otherwise adult use of priviliged stimulants. Let's just keep tightening the noose of free will around the slaves on the plantation, taking every liberty and putting government legislation and control on it.

      October 20, 2011 at 9:45 am | Report abuse |
    • jeremiah shenefield

      I have a hard time believing that our nation’s leaders i.e. congress does not have more pressing issues to deal with at this time. Our society has been cracking down on smoking in public places recently which, to a degree, I would agree with. I also understand children seeing adults or in this case professional sports players dipping sets a bad example but at what point do Americans finally take accountability for raising their children; showing kids what’s right and wrong and tell congress to stay out of their homes. Like most things in my day to day life, I do not need a suit in DC holding my hand telling me how to conduct myself or telling me how to raise my kids.

      October 20, 2011 at 9:48 am | Report abuse |
  2. oogie

    It seems some baseball players are better than some politicians in this regard. Sandy Koufax would ask reporters not to photograph him smoking, but we see Bill Clinton with a cigar. This is posted because I think this is one of the most absurd things I have seen politicians say. And that sets the bar REALLY high

    October 20, 2011 at 8:52 am | Report abuse |
  3. Flavor flav

    doesnt matter if they chew are on too late for kids to watch anyway!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 20, 2011 at 8:56 am | Report abuse |
  4. nellyfromma

    Give me a break... Why does government contrinue to overreach? This is lobbying at some of its most petty. Someone wants to send a message because they have a chip on their shoulder and it will cost Americans just a little more of their freedom. I don't support those who think everyone should have to smoke in an underground becuase they are on that crusade and don't like smoking, but at least there is the second hand smoke arguement that is at least worthy of debate. If these guys wanna do something as nasty as dipping, why not let them?

    Parents can simply show there kids pictures of what it does to your mouth and that should be more than enough to disuade them. Here's big brother trying to pick up the slack where parents aren't, whether its because tehy are lazy parents, or because American Life doesn't allow them enough time with their children to begin with.

    I see a million things wrong here, but none of it is dipping at the world series. Pathetic.

    October 20, 2011 at 9:07 am | Report abuse |
  5. TIM

    Why did this article come up when I clicked on an article about OWS?! I could care less about baseball or anything they do at games. It's definitely not news worthy. Fix your site CNN!

    October 20, 2011 at 9:12 am | Report abuse |
  6. In my Opinion

    Why don't these fools WE voted into office worry about 9% unemployment? The world going broke? a war thats costing us billions? instead they mess around with the NFL and MLB. What a waste vote them all out of office

    October 20, 2011 at 9:15 am | Report abuse |
  7. Scottish Mama

    Senators need to keep their noses out of baseball and get crackin on the deficit and jobs. With that said............................
    Goooooooooooo Cards! 1 down 3 to go.

    October 20, 2011 at 9:17 am | Report abuse |
  8. david mann

    Tobacco products are far more destructive to any society than crack cocaine and black tar heroin. Tobacco companies have known for the last 60 years that their product is addictive and kills people,but they'll happily target pre-teen markets (particularly in Asia) to perpetuate their obscene profit margin. I don't believe in hell, but if it exists then I'm certain every tobacco executive is going there.

    October 20, 2011 at 9:22 am | Report abuse |
  9. Clyde

    This just in....Idiot Senator proposes that organized sports quit keeping score because someones feelings might get hurt. Also no more tackling in football, every shot in basketball will be a free throw, no more skates in hockey because of the zero tolerance policy against blades. Only sport not regulated will be soccer unless the game does not end as a 0-0 tie.

    October 20, 2011 at 9:37 am | Report abuse |
  10. Baxter

    I'm ok with banning chaw in baseball as soon as it's banned on the rodeo circut. Can't have a double standard now, can we?

    October 20, 2011 at 9:43 am | Report abuse |
  11. Find some thing to fix the gov

    This is unreal; with all the malfunction in DC this is what our public elected officials are worried about? Would you walk into an ER having a heart attack and ask the doctor to take care of a hang nail? The Senate Health Committee has a little more to worry about in the overweight USA.

    October 20, 2011 at 9:45 am | Report abuse |
  12. TheDoctor

    And while their at it, can they please stop scratching their nuts. Most people make fun of people who constantly do this

    October 20, 2011 at 9:50 am | Report abuse |
  13. jimmyjet

    This is a great example of the Democrat party in action. They are the NEW PURITANS! Whatever they discover that gives pleasure to others, they try to ban.

    October 20, 2011 at 9:53 am | Report abuse |
  14. usstrong

    It is a crock. It is their god givin right to do as they please. Everything is bad. It is fine that shows like jersey shore and the kardashians are ok on tv for kids to watch, but a baseball player can't have a chew? You can go buy liquor over the counter and their parents can have wine while they eat dinner? I mean some teachers have slept with students so, no more teachers in schools. It is ridiculous. I know of more non tobacco cancer deaths than people who smoked or chewed. Ban every fast food place while your at it. It is bad and instead they have meals with toys just for kids!!!

    October 20, 2011 at 10:15 am | Report abuse |
  15. American

    The democratic party is full of over-reaching, money squandering, hypocritical geeds. How about you focus on things you were elected to do? Next thing you know they are going to ban the champagne showers after the game because it encourages underage drinking...jesus.

    October 20, 2011 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
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