SACRAMENTO (CN) - Tobacco in California pro baseball stadiums could be down to its final out as an assemblyman Tuesday introduced a bill banning use by players and fans.
With doctors and Little League players staged behind him at home plate in a Sacramento baseball diamond, Assemblyman Tony Thurmond, D-Richmond, introduced a bill that would eliminate tobacco from Major League Baseball stadiums in California.
The bill would affect Minor League parks as well, as they are part of Major League franchises.
Thurmond says he wants to prevent tobacco use among children and end the image of a ballplayer with a cheekful of tobacco.
"We have a great opportunity to protect our players and stand up for kids by getting tobacco out of the game," Thurmond said.
Smoking has long been banned in Major League Baseball and smokeless tobacco is also banned in Minor League stadiums. Thurmond's bill is the first piece of legislation introduced by the rookie Assemblyman from the Bay Area. He said it was inspired by recent death of Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, who died of cancer he attributed to years of using chewing tobacco.
"This might be one additional piece of the legacy of a great player like Tony Gwynn," Thurmond said.
After Gwynn's death, Major League Baseball said it was committed to doing everything possible to eliminate chewing tobacco from its teams and it still is under the guidance of new commissioner Rob Mandred. The league says about 30 percent of its players use chewing tobacco.
"Major League Baseball has long supported a ban of smokeless tobacco at the Major League level," Major League Baseball said in a statement. "We ardently believe that children should not use or be exposed to smokeless tobacco, and we support the spirit of this initiative in California and any others that would help achieve this important goal."
Doctors and Little League players voiced support of the tobacco bill, saying they hope their favorite players put down the chew.
"Even though I'm only 10 years old, I know tobacco is really bad for them and that they can get cancer from it," Jonah Broscow said. "I'm confused because I don't understand why people I admire so much are doing this."
Thurmond's is the latest in a series of anti-tobacco bills introduced before Friday's legislative deadline. Lawmakers have introduced bills regulating e-cigarette use in public forums and raising the minimum smoking age to 21.
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