SACRAMENTO –Major League Baseball players could be banned from using chew or any tobacco products at games in California under a new bill.
Smoking is already banned in MLB stadiums, but the use of smokeless tobacco is not. Bay area Assemblyman Tony Thurmond authored the bill and said the issue was highlighted by the death last June of former San Diego Padres All-Star Tony Gwynn.
“I’m hopeful that this bill will lend to his legacy, that it will help to prevent illness for young people and young athletes.” Thurmond said in a written statement. “The use of smokeless tobacco in baseball, at any level and in any location, sets a terrible example for the millions of young people who watch the game and far too often see their favorite players using snuff, dip or chew. We have a great opportunity to protect our players and stand up for kids by getting tobacco out of the game.”
Gwynn believed his oral cancer was linked to his longtime chewing tobacco use. Last year, former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling said he was diagnosed with cancer, which he said he believed was related to his use of smokeless tobacco.
If the law passes, stadiums would also be required to post signs about the ban at all entrances and in the dugouts.
Daniel Ayala is the father of two boys and said chewing tobacco and smoking has become increasingly popular as teens and especially young boys emulate their baseball or sports heroes.
“[Players] influence a lot of people who are into baseball. Kids play it and they have a big influence over those children,” said Ayala. “Smoking tobacco is something that is very public. It’s done on the field. You can see it out there and it may influence kids to start doing it.”
The campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is backing Thurmond’s bill and hopes to carry the campaign to other states if it is successful in California.