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. DogBite

    This deserves the 'what is next?' label. Every year there are politicial correct initiatives wasting our time and money. For US Senators to now say 'now is the time' causes me to ask – where have your guys been? I resent that US Senators are dicking around with this; for even a minute. This country has many more things that require leadership. Leadership that is needed too help our Nation to recover from an event that has touched every family in this Nation. I say to the US Senators with time on their hands; If you are leaders go back to work; we need a focused you, making a difference. The Government is not necessarily required to watch and enjoy sports. Now, I will put my chew back in and get ready to watch the World Series. Finally, the fact US Senators are involved in this campaign is embarrassing. Go to work guys then come back to the park and have a beer and hotdogs. These will probably be challenged in the next few years.

    October 19, 2011 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sandy Cay

      TOTALLY agree with you. Aren't these the folks that want government to get smaller and out of our lives. Get to work and leave this issue alone. Talk about micromanaging the country. This is really absurd.

      October 19, 2011 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • BRB San Deigo

      Dogbite hit it out of the park with those comments. PERFECT. All of this is leading us to the "mommy world" where everything is sunshine and no one ever gets hurt. Remember kids: no tobacco, don't drink, wear your helmet, chew your food, don't swim for two hours after lunch, wear a hat, use sunscreen – wrap your butt in three quilts and watch TV or play video games all day.

      October 19, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      Amen! I don't chew. However, whatever happened to parental intervention, freedom of choice. It is about time big goverment started to back off!

      October 19, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Kyser

    thier fighting the "Good" fight....FFS waste of time senators!

    October 19, 2011 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Robert

    The government needs to start worrying about their own issues instead of dictating what we do in our personal lives.

    October 19, 2011 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • James

      Major League baseball players out in the field isn't personal. Its public.

      October 19, 2011 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
  4. mcam124

    this is flat out ridiclous its part of of the game and has been for many years, all this anti-tobacco bull**** needs to stop, i thought this was america you know the place with freedom...

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

      Only an idiot would still smoke/dip in 2011 and personally I’m tired of paying for your healthcare.

      October 19, 2011 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
  5. replace these communist senators

    Are they now the US Council in Morals of America ?

    October 19, 2011 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
  6. scott

    i think the politicians should worry more about our country and the shape its in rather then chewing tabbaco i dont get it they want to take somany rights away is as if we are becoming communist sad state of affairs

    October 19, 2011 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Tea Party Exress

    Congress won't lift a finger to help kids get affordable health insurance, but damn it all if baseball players send the wrong message about health to kids.

    Just think about the logic.

    October 19, 2011 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
  8. AJ

    Maybe the players should replace chewing with a ritual leg-lifting fart.

    October 19, 2011 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sean

      Then who would pat their backsides?

      October 19, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Senators Suck!!!

    Since they don't them to chew because it gives kids the wrong idea....I don't want to see commercials with Labron eating at Mcdonalds, or cars driving down closed roads going 100 mph, or hell we should even ban the news because McDs leads to obesity, speeding is bad, and the news is just one hour long show of bad news.

    How about when we hear about senators cheating on their wives, or goveners selling senators seats, or public office employees drinking in meetings at the capital building while on the job, or every other scandal that happens in Washington. How can we do away with the clowns that hold these offices in Washington?

    Lets just do away with everything.

    What a crock! I can't believe these are the clowns we elected to run this country.


    October 19, 2011 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • kakilicli

      Yes. Congress has demonstrated their sole concern with being re-elected. There's a term limit on the presidency. Somehow we've survived that. Time to have some house-cleaning.

      October 19, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • DN

      You can be as dumb as you want, but I don't recommend telling the world how stupid you are. But maybe this is more about feeling safe in the anonymity of an internet message board. Unlike all of those other vices you mentioned (you really compared LeBron James eating at McDonalds to chewing tobacco?!), there are direct links between cancer and tobacco. It's a health issue.

      Then again, this may just be a post from a member of the tobacco lobby in Washington!

      October 19, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  10. guest

    lighten up folks! they are not passing legislation on this, they are merely asking MLB to consider enacting their own ban of the use of these products. can't any of you read? and just because the economy is in the toilet doesn't mean that the chair of the senate's HEALTH committee can't bring up an important issue. good Lord!

    October 19, 2011 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Observer

      This has nothing to do with tobacco or children, this has everything to do with liberty and freedom. The mere fact that paid government employees are spending time on this issue, with everything else that's going on, is an insult. The mere fact that the government of a "free" country is contemplating a mandated ban of a LEGAL activity is beyond maddening.

      October 19, 2011 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • guest

      i'm sorry observer, but i guess you can't read either. NO ONE is contemplating legislation about this. and the senators are on the HEALTH committee, i thought capitals might help explain their job to you. i hope your embracing this land of the free also includes supporting gay marriage, legalized drugs, the rights of workers to organize, and flag burning. somehow, though i bet you don't support those freedoms....

      October 19, 2011 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
  11. quickie


    October 19, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Columbus

    I'm with most other posters here, why isn't congress and the senate more focused on the current economic mess we're in than worrying about ball players using a legal, but disgusting, substance. Let the people take care of themselves and if someone doesn't want their kid seeing it, they have a right not to, don't buy the ticket.

    October 19, 2011 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
  13. scott

    if they want to ban tobacco it should be done at the start of the season not during the most important part. it is such a routine for most players and it would just take away from their play. great idea just wrong time

    October 19, 2011 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • vic

      Good point, I thought the same. I'd be pretty agitated without my fix at the most stressful and nerve-racking point in not just a season, but for many an entire career, after being allowed to have it while I play for hundreds of games before this one and getting used to that during the game. Try the no-tobacco thing during this world series and see if it affects any users' play. Who knows, I bet some players would be a little edgy haha

      October 19, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
  14. James V.

    I'm a liberal but this is just plain dumb. Sends a wrong message? Hey parents... do you job. I chew. I have for years. It was my choice and it wasn't because I saw so-and-so do it.

    You can't legislate these things and trying only makes things worse. I all you busy-body do-gooder politicians really want to help "save my life" or the lives of "the children" than how about you go after the insurance companies and big pharma who have made healthcare unattainable for most people. We'll die from lack of funds before we die from chew or alcohol or fat-filled cheeseburgers.

    Oh and while we're on "what's good for the children" – you talk about setting bad examples? Look in the mirror at your crooked ineffectual "leadership" with the enormous DEBT your strapping the kiddies with. Yeah... I think you have plenty of other more effective things you could be addressing to help "save the kids".

    October 19, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Gerg

    I would like the ability to teach my child that yes, in fact when you grow up if you would like to play baseball and chew tabacco, you can. I would also teach my child that chewing tabacco is pretty stupid and gross. Banning it from the World Series would actually be more harmful because then my child will not see it and I wont get a chance to talk to him about it. Instead he will probably learn about at some other point where I might not be able to explain it to him. Thanks a lot Bud Selig for creating more of a problem.

    October 19, 2011 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
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