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California Governor Signs Smokeless Tobacco Ballpark Ban

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Governor Jerry Brown has signed a bill banning the use of smokeless tobacco in all California ballparks.

“Assembly Bill 768 is all about the kids. Specifically, what professional baseball players do in view of kids when they are out on the field. The use of smokeless tobacco in baseball, at any level and in any location, sets a terrible example for the millions of young people who watch the game and far too often see their favorite players using snuff or chew,” said Assemblymember Tony Thurmond (D), who in introduced the legislation.

California has five of Major League Baseball (MLB) teams–the San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels, Oakland Athletics and San Francisco Giants–and owners nationwide have been pressing for a ban for years, reported the Associated Press.

Last May, they got one in San Francisco. In August, they got another in Boston. And as Brown signed AB 768 on October 10, one was already in the works for Los Angeles.

The MLB still needs buy-in from the players, however, because the statewide ban that takes effect before next season has no provision for enforcement, the report said.

“The question we’ve been asked is are we going to have police officers walking around checking lips, and no, that’s not the case,” said Opio Dupree, chief of staff to Thurmond. “It’s going to be left to the team and the league.”

Use of smokeless tobacco has been banned in the minor leagues for more than 20 years, said the report, but Major League Baseball and its players union haven’t been able to reach agreement on a similar restriction. Players and coaches are prohibited from chewing tobacco during TV interviews and can’t be seen carrying tobacco products when fans are in the ballparks. But use during the game continues.

Gone for the most part are players who stuffed wads of chewing tobacco in their cheeks. Now players are more apt to “dip.” They place pinches of tobacco between their lip and gum. It produces saliva but not the streams of spit seen with chaws of tobacco.

Moves to adopt a comprehensive ban have been gaining support in recent years, fueled by such things as last year’s death of Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn of the San Diego Padres, who blamed his mouth cancer on years of chewing tobacco. Former Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, a cancer survivor, has also taken up the cause.


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