Los Angeles City Council members took a strong first step Tuesday toward striking smokeless tobacco out of all sports venues in the city.
A motion to ban the use of chewing tobacco and snuff, introduced in June by Councilman Jose Huizar, passed 14-0. It called for the city attorney to draft an ordinance to cover all venues within the city where any organized sport, amateur or professional, is played, including Dodger Stadium.
The council will take a final vote on the measure once the city attorney's office has prepared the ordinance, which the lawmakers asked for within 30 days. The measure would apply to players, fans and anyone in a sports venue.
It's expected to be implemented by January.
"Today, the city of Los Angeles joins the ranks of San Francisco and Boston in what is becoming a national effort to knock tobacco out of the park," Huizar said in a statement. "Smokeless tobacco use in the great American pastime is way past its time. The time to act is now to save others, particularly our young people, from an extremely addictive and potentially deadly product."
The city already has in place similar bans on smoking and e-cigarettes.
Earlier this year, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee signed an ordinance eliminating smokeless tobacco at the city's athletic fields, making it the first city in the nation to enact such a restriction. Boston passed similar legislation last week, and both ordinances are expected to be in place before the 2016 baseball season.
Ahead of the council vote Tuesday, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids played a video highlighting the success of the "Knock Tobacco Out of the Park" campaign, featuring public health advocates, little league players and other supporters.
"With today's vote, the Los Angeles City Council has provided tremendous momentum to take tobacco out of baseball once and for all," said Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
Huizar's original motion covered only baseball stadiums, but it was amended Tuesday to include all sports venues.
"Baseball players have been endorsing chewing tobacco for decades and decades," Councilman Paul Koretz said before the vote. "It's time to stop this. I think with this action today we'll take a giant step in the right direction."
The proposed ordinance also received support from the L.A. Dodgers.
"Major League Baseball has long supported a ban of smokeless tobacco at the Major League level and the Los Angeles Dodgers fully support the Los Angeles City Tobacco ordinance and Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids," the Dodgers said in a statement.
Huizar and supporters of the ordinance also cited a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that found that high school athletes use smokeless tobacco at nearly twice the rate of non-athletes. The report also found that smokeless tobacco use among athletes increased from 2001 to 2013 from 10% to 11.1%, even as smoking rates dropped.
"Our parks and stadiums are places for creating healthy choices for the next generation, not for cancer-causing addictions," said Councilman David Ryu. "Today's successful vote allows for our children to live healthy and active lifestyles. I urge other cities and states across the country to take similar steps to protect our kids from addictive and cancer-causing behaviors."