This is an interesting tack. I have no idea if there is any political will behind this.
A California state legislator has submitted a bill that would ban chew at all baseball ballparks, including Major League ballparks (Dodger Stadium, Petco, Angels Stadium, AT&T Park and the Oakland Coliseum). The law would ban chew within ballparks by fans, coaches and players.
Now, baseball already bans chew by players at the Minor League level; I have no idea if that applies to fans, it’s probably a ballpark-by-ballpark thing. But, Major Leaguers are still allowed to chew.
The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and other groups (and me) have been trying to get baseball to ban chew. The league has been reluctant to do this, I think mostly because the players’ union has to get behind it. The players’ union has said it is willing to negotiate the issue of chewing tobacco during the next contract talks, which I believe are in 2016.
Frankly, I have to believe most parks already ban fans from chewing because it’s gross and disgusting and who wants to clean that crap up? Again, it doesn’t affect NCAA or Minor League players because they’re already prohibited from chewing on the ballfield. It would be really interesting how the Padres, Dodgers, Angels, Giants and A’s would feel if this bill actually passed.
I think it might be a bit premature for such a bill until we see what happens with the MLB collective bargaining negotiations next year. I’m cautiously optimistic the union will agree to a ban on chew. But, I like that the bill is raising the issue and is putting extra pressure on baseball to deal with the problem.
Chew in baseball has become a hot topic in part because Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn died last year of salivary gland cancer and Curt Schilling recently underwent treatment for oral cancer. Both were longtime chewers. Babe Ruth also died of oral cancer.