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. ian

    I don't gethw any American can vote Democrat. All these fools want to do is run our lives. What a bunch of morons.

    October 19, 2011 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
  2. tooz72

    there are many many more important things going on in this country to worry about

    October 19, 2011 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
  3. James

    What a joke. "Hey Ben and Harry, this budget issue is really frustrating....I wish we had something easier to do at work then get people jobs."

    October 19, 2011 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Hypocrites

    I bet these Senators and even the baseball players now watched baseball when they were kids and saw them using Tobacco. Now they are Senators. They are not dead from mouth cancer. Just cause a kid is going to see it doesn't mean he will automatically do it. I hate that stupid "Well I got Lucky" phrase.

    October 19, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Michael Scheurer

    That right, let's pretend it does not exist. Keep it off TV and the go watch people light up at home!!! If they want to use it, go ahead. Just make sure you CHARGE them more for health insurance. I am tired of paying for smokers when they get sick.

    October 19, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  6. NoDems2011

    Typical liberal wimp crap. Taking the attention off of their real problems and putting it elsewhere. How many of your OCW'rs are chewing and smoking you flippin fools?

    October 19, 2011 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Greg C.

    This is not newsworthy! You should be running other headlines, not this garbage....

    October 19, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Paul

    I wonder if, I wonder HOW MUCH taxpayer money was wasted on studies to determine how much tobacco-chewing Baseball players negatively affect America's youth. I smell the Heath Insurance Industry PACs.

    End Big Government! Vote Ron Paul 2012!

    October 19, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
  9. tb

    How about the camera men are instructed to not film players who use tobacco in close up for extended periods. If a player wants recognition he gets rid of the tobacco. Simple really.

    October 19, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • SJ

      Yeah that makes sense.....let's not recognize the athletes for what they are there for....athletic ability and playmaking...because they choose to do something that is competely legal that you don't agree with.....

      October 19, 2011 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jeff Frank ( R - OHIO ) "Яight Wing Иutcase"

    Professional Baseball – A well managed, clean, exiting sport, containing filthy habits.

    October 19, 2011 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
  11. JM

    Let's see...we have rapists, abusers, dog killers, drug addicts, gamblers and every possible combination of such in sports. Once they're out of prison (IF they are ever charged, let alone convicted) we say 'it's ok, they did their time' and off they go to make millions. But my God, if they chew tobacco, only then are they are a danger to our kids and to society.

    October 19, 2011 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Killing_time

    Dear Congress,

    Pull your head out of your as*es and our lives. You are there to help this country run smoothly and prosper, not meddle in the everyday affairs of private citizens.

    Fed up public

    October 19, 2011 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
  13. CopeFan

    I'm a Canadian but I completely agree with the comments about loss of freedoms. This type of approach to 'sanitize' our children's experiences effectively absolves parents (of which I am one) of any responsibility. I guess it's better to have the appearance of being sqeaky clean than actually putting it into practice (Tiger Woods anyone?). On a lighter note, I've chewed for years and don't spit. You don't have to. Real men swallow (tongue or 'pinch' firmly in cheek here people)!

    October 19, 2011 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Frank

    How about no stupid Viagra commercials during baseball games. My eight year old son doesn't need to see a commercial which says "call your doctor if you experience a 4 hour erection." He just wants to watch a baseball game.

    October 19, 2011 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Mike B

    The pussification of America continues.

    October 19, 2011 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
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