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. Jimmeh

    What's next ? They can't adjust their cup?

    October 19, 2011 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Fix The Economy

    Quit wasting tax payer dollars on trivial issues like chewing tabacco in the World Series and get back to work on the Economy and stimulating job growth. Any time/resources allocated to this issue is a waste of tax payer dollars and a distraction from your #1 priority Senators. WAKE UP! YOU HAVE ONE JOB: FIX THIS ECONOMY!! Nothing more nothing less. MLB is a private enterprise and as such a Tabacco ban should be left to the discretion of MLB. Hey Senators quit wasting time investigating/policing professional sports. Until you ban Alcohol adds from dominating the WS television coverage I don't want to hear about chewing tabacco from the likes of you.

    October 19, 2011 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fix The Economy

      Anyone see Mike Napoli (Texas Rangers) swallow a wad of chewing tabacco during a collision at the plate in the ALDS against Tampa Bay? He proceeded to fight off the urge to throw up all over the place. What's a stronger deterrent? Seeing his stupid face turn green in HD or knowing the only reason these guys aren't chewing is because there was a ban. Kids aren't stupid. They've watched players chew for at least some of the 174ish games already played this season.

      October 19, 2011 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • BzBartender

      This should outrage all of us as we continue to struggle with this broken economy. Our government apparently needs to be completely overhauled for a group of Senators to feel that it's OK to waste tax payer dollars over such a irrelevant topic during a time of public unrest towards the government.

      October 19, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  3. One concerned parent

    It's not the government's place to monitor the MLB. The players are over 21, and therefore legal to do what they please. It's not the players responsibility to parent your child and "show a good example". That is THE PARENT'S JOB!!! I, for one, could care less what the players are doing on the field while playing because it doesn't effect me, or my child. If the parents aren't mature enough to set the example, BE THE PARENT, and stop relying on the television to entertain the offspring, then the child was doomed from the start to be pregnant by 12, smoking, doing drugs, and bending to peer-pressure because the parent was never a parent from the start.

    Just because you CAN reproduce, doesn't mean you should!! Parents (and our government) have to stop deciding what is good and what is bad to be broadcast over the tv, radio, movies, etc because they are, in essense, trying to parent everyone and push their views and beliefs on other adults. That's not freedom, and that's infringing on my rights as an adult and a citizen of this country.

    The government needs to stick where it belongs, running the nation and stop catering to the extremest whining worthless parents that find anything & everything to gripe about because their little child might be exposed to something they don't approve of. Not my problem, not the government's problem. Washington just needs a good cleaning, remove everyone, and start over, like the perverbial etch-a-sketch. the system has failed, and it's time to replace the system before more things like this petty, stupid issue grows larger

    October 19, 2011 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • tierney

      We are huge baseball fans and include our young girls when watching. They love the game. Use the time as a teaching tool. A great opportunity to communicate with your children the pros and cons of certain behavior. I agree, with the thought of keeping our government out of it. However, I also worry about those children who have no parental guidance. Who should "step up the plate" for them? Me, You, DogBite or someone else? Or, perhaps no one and we just continue the cycle... truly sad.

      October 19, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • One concerend parent

      You are right, there does need to be someone to step up to the plate for those children that have adults living with them, but do not have parenst that aren't taking their parental responsibility. Unfortunately, those are also the offspring that perpetuate the cycle and it falls under "like parent like child". Those are the unfortunate souls that are bound to go no where, continue the cycle, and produce more offspring that will never aspire to more than what they are exposed.

      However, that doesn't mean the government is the "parent" that needs to step up. That infringes on MY rights as an adult, and as a citizen of this country. The government has more important things to do with our hard earned tax dollars instead of trying to play "media police" and impose their views (which very well might not be the same as my views) and infringe on my rights.

      October 19, 2011 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Bob

    Same as others. Stay the hell of things that do not pertain to you. You might as well 'ban' the planet earth because no matter where you are, these kinds of things exist – always have and always will.

    October 19, 2011 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Vova

    Let's also have them (and all potentila role models) have nose jobs done, have the standard body mass index, belong to the Democratic party, what else, be for world peace, ...

    October 19, 2011 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jay

    Thank god for the morality police telling adult men what (legal substances) they can and cannot put into their own bodies.

    How about we just go ahead and take the next logical step of banning alcohol consumption at games too??

    October 19, 2011 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
  7. NC

    "it sends the wrong message to children who look up to the players"

    Says the senators that have mistresses, it's a good thing for them that no one looks up to politicians. Otherwise it would be our government's responsibility to tell them what legal things they can and can't do.

    October 19, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Edina

    It's up to MLB how these men behave on the field. MLB is a private enterprise, and if they want to allow their players to look stupid even to children, so be it. Your average person does not smoke or chew. One would think that MLB would nix chewing on the field if for no other reason thatn to appeal to a larger fan base. There is nothing appealing about seeing a grown man shove a wad of tobacco in his own face. And lip cancer is one of the ugliest faces their are, once the lower lip is cut off. It happened to my grandfather who chewed his entire life. He went from appearing to be a very attractive older gentleman to looking like a freak. But it's their game, not America's. Chew till both your lips have to be cut off for all we care.

    October 19, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Rob

    Okay so how much more Goverment intervention are we going to take. OMG this is getting out of hand, I guess they will ban Fat burgrer commercials next. Oh no they would not do that..They like them...What a joke goverment they have become. I hope the teams push back!!!!!!! Guess ball scratching would be bad for kids to see also so make a Law Washington

    October 19, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
  10. concerned vet

    If Big Brother would spend half as much time and energy and money to force the tobacco companies to remove the additives and poisons in cigarettes, the ones they added to make them more addictive, as they do in persecuting smokers for being addicted, maybe then I can finally kick an admittedly nasty, dirty, smelly habit for good. Though I am not through with trying to quit, I might have an easier time if I there weren't all the other chemicals. To all those who hate me because I'm a smoker: hey, it's ok, you don't bother me, because there's no law says to have to share my air.

    October 19, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
  11. DB

    It's a filthy habit that looks absolutely disgusting. It's even MORE filthy than smoking, and as a smoker (something I'm not proud of but admit to) I acknowledge it's a filthy habit. But chaw is even worse.

    But banning it for no reason at all except that you don't want kids to see someone doing it? I refuse to indulge the notion that I should have to explain what's wrong with that. These Senators and anti-tobacco crusaders know they're wrong, they don't need me to tell them why.

    October 19, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • jon

      You clearly don't chew or's not any filthier than smoking....Smelling like cigs is a million times filthier.

      October 19, 2011 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • concerned vet

      You're both right, in different ways. When I was able to quit for a couple of weeks, I noticed what other smokers smelled like, and it's terrible. The spit is pretty disgusting also; don't know why any woman would wanna kiss that. But only a woman who smokes would be able to kiss a smoker. Instead of ragging on each other, let's continue to berate the politicians.

      October 19, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Brad

    You know what else is unhealthy? 99 mph fastballs to the head. Or running over the catcher and breaking an ankle. Or running into a padded wall to make a catch and dislocating a shoulder. To use or not to use smokeless tobacco is the player's choice. Not the government. It is the parents' responsibility of the children who watch these games to say that their children should not use it.

    October 19, 2011 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
  13. dtroitwings1

    Glad our wonderful government doesn't have anything more important to worry about than this. I mean who cares that our country has no money, no jobs, and is going down the toilet faster than that floater I flushed a minute ago. Let's worry about a bunch of guys who play a game insteag.

    October 19, 2011 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • dtroitwings1


      October 19, 2011 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
  14. rich

    I was going to comment but then thought these senators might turn on the camera in my bedroom. They want to control every other part of my life so they might as well go for the gold!

    October 19, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Ezrond

    Ban Congress. Look at the example they are giving our children of worthless politicians that can't work together.

    October 19, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • dtroitwings1

      Best idea I've heard in a while.

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