San Francisco votes to ban chew at all ballparks, including AT&T Park

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The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted this week to ban chewing tobacco at all ballparks, including the Giants’ home, AT&T Park.

The ordinance, which passed by a unanimous vote, will take a second vote next week, and it sounds like a bit of a formality. The ordinance would not go into effect until Jan. 1, so it would not affect ballplayers and coaches this year.

There is also a similar bill in the California State Assembly to ban chewing tobacco at all ballparks in California — supposedly, this would apply to the Dodgers, A’s and Padres.

The ordinance would ban everyone — even the players — from chewing tobacco publicly in ballparks. I’m wondering how they plan to enforce that if some ballplayers defy the ordinance. I’m kind of trying to imagine them telling some $20 million-a-year athlete to spit out his chew or else he might get a ticket.

Chew is already banned in ballparks at the Minor League level. Smoking is banned in most, if not all, MLB parks (Honestly, that a good question, I don’t know if any parks in the country still allow smoking except in specially designated areas).

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Major League Baseball has expressed an interest in banning chew, but it’s an issue that would have to be negotiated with the Player’s Association. I actually didn’t know this. Players are not allowed to be chewing tobacco during television interviews (I wonder if that’s enforced at all.)

I’m hoping that the action by San Francisco supervisors and the bill in the California Assembly will prompt baseball and the player’s association to take action. It’s long overdue. Too many kids getting the idea that chew is cool from watching their favourite players with a chaw in his cheek.

Tony Gwynn died last year of salivary gland cancer and blamed his decades-long chew habit for his cancer. Curt Schilling last year also had a scary bout of oral cancer and likewise blamed chewing tobacco.

Here is a statement on San Francisco’s move by Matt Myers with the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids:

“Today’s vote by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors is truly historic and a huge step toward eliminating tobacco from baseball for good. San Francisco will become the first city to take tobacco out of baseball, setting a powerful example that all of Major League Baseball and the rest of the country should quickly follow. The Board of Supervisors recognizes some simple but important facts – kids see athletes as role models, and when baseball stars use smokeless tobacco the kids who look up to them are much more likely to as well. Our national pastime should have nothing to do with promoting a deadly and addictive product.

Supervisor Mark Farrell has been a true champion on this issue, putting the health of San Francisco’s kids first. San Francisco is leading the nation on this important issue and helping us achieve our goal of the first tobacco-free generation.

When Mayor Lee signs the ordinance into law, we will be on our way to making Major League Baseball completely tobacco-free by 2016. We applaud San Francisco for acting to break baseball’s unhealthy addiction to tobacco and moving us closer to taking tobacco out of baseball once and for all – for the kids, the players and the future.”

 

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