Category Archives: U.S. Senate

Senators renew call for banning chewing tobacco in baseball

Four senators are using the attention being given to the World Series by issuing a statement this week renewing the call for Major League Baseball to ban chew on the field and in the dugouts.

Sens. Dick Durbin, Frank Lautenberg, Richard Blumenthal and Tom Harkin, who is the Senate Health Committee chairman, all signed the letter to Major League Baseball. The letter states in part:

“When players use smokeless tobacco, they endanger not only their own health, but also the health of millions of children who follow their 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.

This is not the first time Congress has gotten involved in trying to get tobacco out of baseball. (And if you think this is weird, it is already banned at the Minor League level for 18 years now and most colleges do not allow their players to chew on the field.) The push has been ongoing for about a year now. And I even found out it is against the rules to smoke on the field. (Many years ago, Orioles manager Earl Weaver used to chain smoke during games. I wonder if Detroit manager Jim Leyland sneaks cigarette breaks in the clubhouse during games? He is a chain smoker.)

Baseball has been pretty stubborn about this and has yet to respond, saying it is a collective bargaining issue.

Really, it’s time. I know this sounds like the “pussyfication of America,” but the fact is, chewing is a big problem with more kids taking it up than in the past, and one of the reasons they do take it up really is because they see their heroes on the field chewing.


U.S. Senators getting involved in trying to ban chewing tobacco in MLB

Well, this usually not a good thing when the U.S. Senate butts (hah, pun on a tobacco site) into something, but maybe this isn’t a bad thing, either.

Dick Durbin of Illinois and Frank Lautenburg of New Jersey both wrote Major League Baseball this week urging the league and the players’ union to work together to ban chewing tobacco in baseball. I wrote a few weeks ago about the effort to ban the use of chewing tobacco in MLB stadiums. Before you all start screaming, “Fascist” one me, it’s already banned in Minor League Baseball and has been for several years now. Last I checked, the Earth is still revolving around the Sun.

They point out that use of chewing tobacco has increased among high school boys by 36 percent since 2003:

The senators wrote:

“The use of smokeless tobacco by baseball players undermines the positive image of the sport and sends a dangerous message to young fans, who may be influenced by the players they look up to as role models.”

Hey, MLBers, kids really do copy more than just your batting stances. Seriously.

As recently as 1988, 39 percent of MLB players chewed tobacco (that number has to be lower now). There is some talk that a ban on chew in stadiums will be part of baseball’s next collective bargaining agreement.

Probably, I would’ve smirked at this a few years ago, a couple of U.S. Senators butting into a baseball issue, but then I remember everyone scoffed at Congress for holding hearings on steroids in baseball, and while it seemed like pretty pathetic empty theater at the time, those hearings actually ended up drawing a hell of a lot of attention toward steroids in baseball.