Durbin Knocks Tobacco Out of the Park in Senate Speech

October 19, 2011

Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois, a long-time tobacco-control champion, hit a homerun on the floor of the Senate yesterday when he made a compelling speech aimed at getting smokeless tobacco out of Major League Baseball.

Among millions of viewers who will watch the start of the World Series tonight, Durbin noted, are kids who will see their baseball heroes and imitate 'that little puff in the lip, that can in the pocket.  And they think that’s part of being a great baseball player.'

Watch the speech:


Durbin and three other senators — Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Tom Harkin of Iowa — called on the Major League Baseball Players Association to become better role models for kids and agree to a ban on using smokeless tobacco at games and on camera in the 2012 contract. The top health officials in St. Louis and Arlington, Texas — home cities for the Cardinals and the Rangers — also pressed players to break baseball’s addiction to tobacco.

In Houston, Dr. Alfred McAlister of the University of Texas School of Public Health explained how baseball players dipping or chewing tobacco in high-profile games provide millions in free advertising for a harmful product.  Listen to his interview on Houston public radio station KUHF.

And Marketplace Morning Report describes how big-league ballplayers who use tobacco on camera are 'essentially walking billboards.'  Here's the scoop.