Public domain photo by Cpl. Paul Peterson/
Public domain photo by Cpl. Paul Peterson/

A city councilman called Tuesday for smokeless tobacco products to be banned from amateur and professional baseball venues in Los Angeles.

If Councilman Jose Huizar’s motion is approved by the full council, the City Attorney would be directed to prepare an ordinance 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.”

The baseball games where smokeless tobacco would be banned could include “youth, school and park leagues played at all city stadiums, parks and venues,” according to the motion, which has been assigned to a council committee for discussion.

The motion, seconded by Councilman Paul Koretz, comes in the midst of the baseball season and as public health groups are launching a “Knock Tobacco Out of the Park” campaign aimed at baseball venues.

Huizar and supporters of his motion point to statistics that say smokeless tobacco is used by 14.7 percent of high school boys in the United States, and by 8.8 percent of all high school students.

Smokeless tobacco contains cancer-causing chemicals, is linked to oral, pancreatic and esophageal cancer as well as other mouth-related health problems, and could result in nicotine addiction, Huizar says.

“There is no good that comes out of smokeless tobacco use in baseball — not for the players and not for the millions of kids who look up to them,” he said. “It’s time to do the right thing and take tobacco out of the game completely for the good of baseball and the health of our kids and players alike.”

Smoking use has gone down among young people, but smokeless tobacco has not seen the same decline, according to supporters of the motion.

“Our national pastime should be about promoting a healthy and active lifestyle, not a deadly and addictive product,” said Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “We have the momentum on our side to finally take tobacco out of baseball for kids, the players and the future.

“Today’s action in Los Angeles will help achieve our goal of the first tobacco-free generation,” Myers added. “Players who dip or chew are providing the tobacco industry with free marketing, and that’s not something anyone needs.”

— City News Service

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