Strike chew baccy ban hits baseball
The home of the San Francisco Giants baseball team could become the first US city to ban chewing tobacco from its playing fields.
Supervisors have voted unanimously to prohibit the use of smokeless tobacco at athletic venues, specifically singling out baseball, which has a long history of players spitting out tobacco juice in front of children who worship them.
Mark Farrell, chief sponsor of the legislation, says it is not the right message to send to children, who should not get the idea that they need to use tobacco to play ball.
The San Francisco edict is part of an overall push by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids based in Washington DC, which targeted the city and California to promote its anti-smoking efforts.
The ban, which needs another formal vote by the board next week, would take effect from January 1.
An even more expansive bill outlawing all tobacco use, including electronic cigarettes and smokeless tobacco wherever an organised game of baseball is played in California is making its way through the state assembly.
Smokeless tobacco includes moist snuff and chewing tobacco.
Minor league baseball has banned use of smokeless tobacco since the early 1990s, but it remains a negotiable contract item with Major League players. Currently, players and coaches cannot chew tobacco during interviews or carry tobacco while wearing a uniform when fans are in the stadium.
Players union spokesman Greg Bouris had no comment in February when the anti-tobacco group launched its campaign. He did not return an email request for comment.
Nearly 15% of boys in US high schools currently use smokeless tobacco and use is even higher among students who play organised sports than among non-athletes, according to a report by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco.
The use of smokeless tobacco increases the risk of cancer, gum disease and addiction to nicotine, the report says.
San Francisco now bans smoking, including the use of electronic cigarettes, at sports arenas, fields, parks and stadiums.
Jess Montejano, an aide to Mr Farrell, said a ban on smokeless tobacco would be enforced the same way as regular smoking - by posting signs and removing violators from premises.
AT&T Park is home to the 2014 World Series champions, the San Francisco Giants.
When asked if a player would be kicked out for chewing tobacco at the park, Mr Montejano said: "We would hope it doesn't come to that and that the league would work to educate players coming to AT&T Park."