Chewing Tobacco ‘Going, Going, Gone’ at SF Giants AT&T Park

Tim Lincecum Dip
San Francisco, CA

“Take Me Out to the Ballgame” lyricizes peanuts and crackerjacks as mainstays for baseball and both seem safe to remain that way. Chewing tobacco, a mainstay for players, may be on the same trajectory as the rotary telephone and the eight-track cassette player if the city of San Francisco has any say in the matter.

An AP story notes that supervisors for the City By The Bay voted unanimously to prohibit the use of smokeless tobacco at athletic venues, specifically identifying baseball as a major culprit. The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, based in Washington, D.C., promoted the prohibition and target California cities to proselytize its anti-smoking message.

The ordinance needs one more formal vote next week by the board of supervisors. If it passes, the law will take effect on the first of January. Greg Bouris, a spokesman for the MLB players union, did not return an email request for comment regarding the new legislation.

Minor league baseball prohibits smokeless tobacco and major league players are not permitted to chew tobacco during interviews. Moreover, carrying tobacco while wearing a uniform, when spectators are in the ballpark, violates MLB rules.

Critics of chewing tobacco point out that smokeless tobacco causes cancer, gum disease, and addiction to nicotine. Researchers at the University of California-San Francisco reported that 15 percent of boys in U.S. high schools use smokeless tobacco and the percentage goes up when you survey boys who play organized sports.