L.A. Moves to Ban Smokeless Tobacco at Dodger Stadium & City Ball Parks

L.A. Moves to Ban Smokeless Tobacco at Dodger Stadium & City Ball Parks
File photo by Jackie Waters/Flickr

UPDATE at 3:10 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015: The council voted unanimously today to write up a prohibition law. See details at the bottom.

Smokeless tobacco, which includes snuff and chewing tobacco, has a long tradition on the baseball field.

But cities such as San Francisco and Boston, citing health concerns that include cancer, have banned it at athletic fields and other venues.

Los Angeles wants to follow suit.

This morning the City Council's Health, Mental Health & Education Committee will consider a motion by Councilman José Huizar that would prohibit the products at city baseball venues. Here's the proposal's key language:

 ... The city of Los Angeles should implement a plan, for which the City Attorney should draft an ordinance for review in 90 days, to outlaw the use of smokeless tobacco at all venues in the city of Los Angeles where organized baseball is played, either amateur or professional, including but not limited to youth, school and park leagues played at all city stadiums, parks and venues.

Even though Dodger Stadium is not owned by the people of L.A., a spokesman for Huizar says the ban would include "big-league parks like Dodger Stadium."

San Francisco's ban includes AT&T Stadium, where the Giants play. That venue is city-owned.

If the health committee approves of the motion, it will head to the full City Council for an immediate vote, Huizar's office says.

The concern, according to Huizar's people, is that student athletes, who often serve as role models on campus, use smokeless tobacco at nearly twice the rate of their peers.

Recent U.S. Centers for Disease Control data shows that smokeless-tobacco use among athletes increased 10 percent from 2001 to 2013, a time when smoking was on the decrease.

Nearly one out of five (17.4 percent) high school athletes use smokeless tobacco, the CDC says. According to Huizar's office:

The City of Los Angeles seeks to join San Francisco and Boston in eliminating smokeless-tobacco use at all venues where organized sports are played as a means to reduce the number of young people who take up the highly addictive habit annually. Smokeless-tobacco use led to the death of Hall of Famer San Diego Padre Tony Gwynn*, and former Boston Red Sox’s pitching ace Curt Schilling* attributes smokeless-tobacco use to his recent cancer diagnosis. 

That's foul.

UPDATE at 3:10 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015: The council voted unanimously (14-0) to have the City Attorney draft the prohibition.

"Today, the City of Los Angeles joins the ranks of San Francisco and Boston in what is becoming a national effort to knock tobacco out of the park," Huizar said. "Smokeless tobacco use in the great American pastime is way past its time. The time to act is now to save others, particularly our young people, from an extremely addictive and potentially deadly product."

Huizar's people say the Dodgers support the measure. His office states:

Once finalized, the measure will apply to athletic venues at all levels within city limits, including Dodger Stadium, and will cover the players, fans and anyone in the entire venue.

*Spelling has been corrected.

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