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. Guthrie

    I'm surprised Bud Selig is going along with this. It really grinds my gears when politicians get involved to such an extent. I agree, they need to butt out. Major Leaguers are men. And men should be allowed to chew tobacco if they want to. It's been a part of the game for a long time.

    October 19, 2011 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      Sounds like a plan. Baseball players will stop chewing when politicians stop screwing.

      October 19, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  2. guynsombrero

    How ridiculous? If u do not want your kids to watch people chew then watch something else. If your kids are idolizing MLB players look in the mirror and have them look up yourself. The players don't have to be role models for your kids. The players do not interact with your kids on a daily basis or at all they play a game for a living. I am sure every bag of chew says this is hazardous to your health its a personal choice so until all tabacco is deemed illegal then there isnt a reason to ban this.

    October 19, 2011 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • JAd

      well said...

      October 19, 2011 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike from Ottawa

      Very well said and love the name :D. So stupid to think that MLB players are the cause for teens using chew. So I guess Marilyn Monroe, Keanu Reeves and any other actor/actress is responsible for kids smoking. They did it in the movies so that must be the reason... cause after all everyone wants to be THE ONE.

      October 19, 2011 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Dan

    Note to Congress and Senate.. STOP MEDDLING IN THINGS THAT DO NOT PERTAIN TO YOU. WHEN YOU GUYS CAN GET THIS COUNTRY UNDER CONTROL THEN WE WILL LOOK FOR YOUR CONSULTATION ON OTHER ISSUES!!! If they want to kill themselves on and off of the field then so be it. You have no right to decide what our sports professionals do on or off the field. The parents of our younger generation need to do thier job in communicating to thier offspring on the many world wide dangers. We dont need Gov't telling us what to do.

    October 19, 2011 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jim

    Same thought as many. The US Govt needs to worry about so many other issues. And stay the hell out of things that aren't the business of the Govt. The guys are adults who can make their own decisions. S

    October 19, 2011 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
  5. slowback

    How can the average fan tell the difference between chewing gum or chewing tobacco, or spittng sunflower seeds or spitting tobacco juice or just spitting saliva? Lets commision a government study to find out! Just watch the game if you are interested in baseball. Otherwise, find something else to do, like fix our broken economy.

    October 19, 2011 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jim

    Same thought as many. The US Govt needs to worry about so many other issues. And stay the hell out of things that aren't the business of the Govt. The guys are adults who can make their own decisions. Same can be said for young aspiring politicians.. When you change your ways then we'll start worrying about others changing theirs.

    October 19, 2011 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
  7. outawork

    Try occupy Tiananmen Square. Oh, I forgot that they are really tried that and it didn't work out.

    October 19, 2011 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Anna

    Let's stop with all the spitting while we're at it!

    October 19, 2011 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
  9. JAd

    Let them play America's pastime however they please, if you wanna get 2nd hand chew, go drink from my spitoon. We arent hurting anyone, tell it to the smokers.

    October 19, 2011 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
  10. TJA

    I really think this is up to the player. They are adults and are capable to make up their own minds. Chewing/Smoking tobacco is not illegal. I personally get sick and tired of our Government telling me how to live my life and what decisions are Good for me. My kids have their sports heroes, however they never based a decision on doing something like "chewing tobacco" because their hero did. This all comes down to letting your children know that a person has individual rights and these rights need to be protected, not taken away. I personally do not like chewing tobacco, however leave this be.

    October 19, 2011 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
  11. jim

    Why get rid of tobacco? If they did they be left with only glove pulling and junk adjusting. There's only 30 mintues to the game anyhow. Why makke it shorter? You can't run as many adds.

    October 19, 2011 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Barb

    Don't stop there. Let's do something about the disgusting spitting too. That's a great thing to teach all our little leaguers growing up that it's perfectly to spit and spit and spit. Not good !

    October 19, 2011 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • James

      Teach your own little turds how to live, why leave that up to the senate? Can't do your job there Barb?

      October 19, 2011 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • jim

      James, what I get from you comment is:
      1. It is OK to insult some ladies kids you don't know.
      2. Yes the sentae should focus on better things.
      3. You seem to think Barbara is not raising her kids as she wants.
      Maybe you should take a page from your momma's book and if you can't say something nice (see comment 2 as it is alt least approprate to teh disussion) the STFU. 😉

      October 19, 2011 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Chris

    Dear Senators: Why don't you focus on fixing our economy? I can set my own examples and raise my own children.

    October 19, 2011 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Joe

    Thank you for banning chewing tobacco. Unfortunate that children do imitate their heroes in many areas. Sports Heroes, Hip Hop moguls...etc. I would like to see a number of things change in regard to behavior. One is spitting. Most young men see their idols on sporting teams such as baseball and football spit. Therefore they too feel that this is acceptable behavior. Then there is the issue about adjusting ones genitals through a cup. I would like to see that too along with other behaviors above outlined banned. Thank you!

    October 19, 2011 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marc L from NY

      Are you joking? You want to ban athletes from adjusting their cups? I think you need to stop blaming others for your own issues.

      October 19, 2011 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike from Ottawa

      Grow up. There's much more troubling issues to deal with in the world. Can't stand how this crap always happens. 4 senators have a problem with something and want the whole world to live by there opinion. Such trash! To say that baseball is the cause for young males to use chew is so stupid. It's a way for smokers to get there fix when they can't smoke. I did the same thing when I played baseball and it wasn't because I saw an athlete doing it, it's because I wanted a smoke and since your not allowed to hack one on the field chewing tobacco was the solution. There goes America again, lets change the world because its whats best. Who are you to say whats best? Fix your debt problem, your homelesness and poverty then maybe switch to something so stupid and pointless. Shows why America is decending bunch of morons not thinking about whats important.

      October 19, 2011 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Vova

    Here's your typical Democratic senator – Dick Durbin, there are no more important things to worry about!

    October 19, 2011 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
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