Toronto now considering a ban on chew at ballparks; MLB will send out nicotine patches to players and coaches

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Rogers Centre

Toronto is the latest city considering a  chewing tobacco ban at all baseball parks, including the Rogers Centre.

New York is considering a similar ban at Yankee Stadium and the Mets’ Citi Field. Meanwhile, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Boston have already banned chew by players, coaches, umpires and fans (though I have to believe most of these ballparks weren’t allowing fans to chew because of the clean-up issues.) It appears chew will also be banned soon by the state of California at ballparks in San Diego, Oakland and Anaheim.

In response to chew being banned at as many as six Major League ballparks this summer, Major League Baseball is actually sending out “nicotine therapy” packages to teams for free. These packages will contain nicotine gun, patches and lozenges. This is included in the bottom of this story here. I thought it was pretty funny and could’ve been the lead of its own story.

Getting back to Toronto, the city’s health board is supposed to decide by March 21. From an article on the topic:

“While chewing tobacco has long been part of the culture for many professional sports, especially baseball, research shows that it has very real and serious health consequences,” City Councilor Joe Mihevic said in a release. “We need to be at the forefront of the movement to restrict its use and join with major cities such as L.A., Boston, and New York.”

These proposals are getting some resistance from ballplayers. Roughly about 30 percent of baseball players are believed to be tobacco chewers (versus about 7 percent of adult men in general and less than 1 percent of adult women.).

From the article:

“For some guys, it’s part of their playing routine,” Chicago Cubs catcher David Ross told the Chicago Tribune. “It’s hard to tell somebody what tools they can take to their work.”

Should Major League Baseball ban chewing tobacco? PHOTO: THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Is this Jonny Gomes? I’m not sure. That’s Mike Napoli behind him.
Jake Peavy of the San Francisco Giants agrees. “It’s really, really hard to tell grown men who have been in this game and done it for a long time that they can’t do something that’s legal,” he said. “Old habits die hard.”

Josh Thole, Justin Smoak and Chris Colabello are counted among Toronto Blue Jays who regularly chew tobacco on the field.

Unofficial stats show that the number of players who still chew tobacco has decreased in recent years, from about one-half of players to one-third. Instead, ballparks have gotten into the habit of making chewing gum and sunflower seeds available as alternatives.

Blue Jays Manager John Gibbons quit two years ago, following the death of Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn of salivary gland cancer.

“I was a tobacco user for a lot of years. I’m not proud of that. I finally was able to quit. It’s a dirty, filthy habit,” Gibbons told the Toronto Star. “I wouldn’t want my kids doing it. You hope in some way, they can eliminate it and wipe it out.”

Chew being phased out; nicotine kits sent to teams

As Gibbons mentioned Tony Gwynn, it was Gwynn’s death a couple of years ago that provided much of the recent impetus to banning chew on the field. Gwynn was a longtime chewer who blamed his habit for his cancer.

Players were informed this week they will be facing chewing tobacco bans in as many as six stadiums this season and sent out the nicotine therapy packets to every team free of charge (Like guys making $15 million a year need freebies?)

From an AP story:

Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker was a big dipper for a long time. He’s cut back over the years, but still might pop in a pinch when games get tight.

“It’s a bad influence for the kids. Big time. I’ll say that. But also they’re adults, too, at the same time,” Baker said.

“We’ll see,” he said. “My daughter used to put water in my can and put it back in my truck. Or my son, he has lip check — ‘Get it out, Dad!'”

Local laws will prohibit the use of all tobacco products at Fenway Park, Dodger Stadium and AT&T Park this year, meaning players, team personnel, umpires and fans. The letter advises the same ban will take effect at every California ballpark in December.

“I support it,” new Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “I think that the intentions are there, and there’s obviously going to be some resistance with players.”

“Like it or not, players are role models, and we have a platform as coaches and players. So if that’s the law, then we definitely support it,” he said.

Major League Baseball actually wants to ban chew on the field, but needs the cooperation of the Major League Players’ Association, which has so far not given its OK. Chewing tobacco use is expected to be part of the next contract being negotiated between MLB and the players.

 

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