San Francisco moves to ban tobacco use among players at ballparks

San Francisco advances on ordinance that would ban use of smokeless tobacco on city's playing fields

San Francisco is aiming to make the city tobacco-free, even for its professional baseball players.

City supervisors voted unanimously to approve an ordinance that would ban the use of smokeless tobacco on the city's playing fields, which includes AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants.

The ordinance, which would apply to all players and team personnel at the ballpark, has to pass one more vote before it could be signed into law by San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee. If ratified, the law would be implemented on Jan. 1, 2016.

The Washington, D.C.-based Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids pushed for the ordinance, which could be a precursor to legislation currently making its way through the Assembly that aims to ban smoking and chewing tobacco at all major league stadiums in California.

San Francisco District 2 Supervisor Mark Farrell, chief sponsor of the ordinance, told the Associated Press that major league players using smokeless tobacco sends the wrong message to children, giving them the idea that they need to use tobacco to play baseball.

Major League Baseball banned smokeless tobacco in the minor leagues more than two decades ago, but it remains in use at the major league level. The league reportedly pushed the MLB Players' Assn., to agree to a chewing tobacco ban during contract negotiations in 2011, but the union fought to keep it.

Union spokesman Greg Bouris had no comment in February when the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids launched its campaign.

If a smokeless tobacco ban were put in place at AT&T Park, violators could be removed from the stadium -- even players. Jess Montejano, an aide to Farrell, said he hoped "the league would work to educate players coming to AT&T Park" in order to avoid enforcement problems.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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