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. Frank

    My high school baseball coach had a dip in his lip, a wad in his cheek and a smoke on his lips during every game! And I hate all three. His Choice and My Choice.

    October 19, 2011 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  2. jd

    I think that these men are all over the age of 21 and should be free to do as they please. I think that the goverment is involved enough and not always to the good, in our day to day lives, so with that being said I believe that it is a choice of the players, and not something that a bunch of senators should worry about. How about dealing with some real issues like Jobs, and Health Insurance.......

    October 19, 2011 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Mo

    Stand up American people little by little we loose our freedom more and more!!! Instead of being worried about tabacco this idiots should be worried about jobs and the economy!!! Revolution has begun!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 19, 2011 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
  4. sealedmerc

    Chewing tobaco isn't the problem. I, as a non smoker, realize chewing tobaco and baseball are synonymous. They should be targeting the players who do drugs and sell drugs. Apparently the senators are too afraid to go after those players because the majority of them are black.

    October 19, 2011 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Joe

    I've watched baseball since the days I first opened my eyes. I've played for as long as I can remember. I never even tried the stuff. I actually think spitting is pretty gross.

    October 19, 2011 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Icurheinie

    The idiocy. You can't ban it after they have been doing it all year. This is nicotine and the withdrawal symptoms will affect their performances. Senators butt out!!!

    October 19, 2011 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Senators Suck!!!

    These clowns are getting more pathetic by the day! They are worried about chewing at a ball game? What about the economy, jobs, healthcare, immigration??? It just amazes me that these idiots have the nerve to put out a statement like this when they can't get themselves in order.

    What about all the drunks in office? What about the big drinking parties going on at the MN capital a few years ago. People that held public office jobs here in MN got caught on camera carrying coolers of booze around the capital from one meeting to another. Drinking on the job while they are supposed to be working for us.

    I think the senators that signed this and the rest of government needs to start working for us and stop worrying about those that work for other people. Why does our government even think they have a say over what the MLB does? And to bring up another point...why did the US government spend who knows how much money investigating the steroid use in MLB and then try prosecuting players for using them? What has this crappy, pathetic, good for nothing government become?

    Washington needs a wake up call big time!

    October 19, 2011 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Nate

    How about telling power hitters they shouldn't be as obese as they are. Maybe young kids will then say – "hell, I don't want to be fat when I grow up".....ha

    October 19, 2011 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Steve

    The whole "what about the children?!" thing is such a crock. Why not focus on the larger issues at hand in our society or, oh I don't know, be a good parent and set an great example yourself for your children. It's such a cop-out to blame athletes and celebritys for our children's behavior. On top of that, they're trying to tell us that kids reading about mayors, governors, and their own represenatives cheating on their wives, stealing public money, and doing plenty of immoral things might not be just as harmful? Look in the mirror people and quit bothering others with these petty complaints.

    October 19, 2011 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chozo

      It's a crock? My guess is your parenting skills are a crock.

      October 19, 2011 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sam

      Steps to being a good parent:
      1. Turn TV on.
      2. Put child in front of TV.
      3. Ignore child and surf internet.
      4. Complain that TV is "not like it used to be."
      5. Vote for a representative that will tackle the "important" issues–such as tobacco in baseball.

      October 19, 2011 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Chozo

    It is *disgusting* to watch these highly-paids clowns spitting all over the place. They should be ashamed and embarrassed. Few of them are man enough to stand up and show decency, rather than acting like petulant children – "You're not the boss of me!"

    I don't want my kids seeing that kind of crudity – and they don't – we don't go to or watch ballgames any more. Maybe when it hits their wallets they'll start paying attention.

    They should grow up and earn some respect instead of just money.

    October 19, 2011 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tim

      Hey, why don't you do a better job of informing your children of the dangers of tobacco instead of trying to shelter them entirely from it?

      October 19, 2011 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Senators Suck!!!

      You're an idiot. So you don't let your kids watch ballgames because they chew and spit? Hilarious. I bet you let them watch TV though don't you....

      Instead of sheltering your kid....teach them the dangers of it. Instead of demanding that others shouldn't do this or do that, because you think its "disgusting" you should learn to live with it. What they are doing is legal. The reason we have so many crazy laws in this country is because we have too many nut cases like you.

      You keep it up and your kid is going to be just as crazy as you are and no one will like them either!

      October 19, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sarah

      Do you also avoid the "bad neighborhoods" so your kids don't realize that some people are poor and crime actually does happen?

      Shielding a child is a great way to get them to experiment when they are older. I like your approach, let them figure out the world on their own. Have fun picking your child up from rehab after they see cocaine on CSI.

      October 19, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  11. sealedmerc

    They never went on and on about Daryl Strawberry who had nostrils wide enough to snort a bowling ball, did they?

    October 19, 2011 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
  12. matt

    go Phillies!

    October 19, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
  13. MK47

    This makes about as much sense as claiming that the rise in childhood diabetes is linked to clowns like Dick Durbin parading their fat asses around the Senate.

    October 19, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Anothermuse

    Yes the World Series is the perfect forum to see how addicts handle going cold turkey...

    October 19, 2011 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Caliban

    Wow, there is no end in sight for trying to control us.
    "The land of the free.........." Not anymore.
    They allow them to sell the products then tell us not to use them because it's unhealthy and could influence the children.
    I guess they should stop all alcohol commercials then too.

    October 19, 2011 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
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