Capitol Alert

Assembly passes bill banning smokeless tobacco at ballparks

After giving a short presentation on the impact of tobacco on athletes, Jonah Broscow, 10, of Oakland talks to Assemblyman Tony Thurmond, D-Richmond, following a news conference at Roosevelt Park in February. Already banned in minor-league parks, tobacco use would be prohibited at majorleague baseball venues in California under legislation passed Thursday by the Assembly.
After giving a short presentation on the impact of tobacco on athletes, Jonah Broscow, 10, of Oakland talks to Assemblyman Tony Thurmond, D-Richmond, following a news conference at Roosevelt Park in February. Already banned in minor-league parks, tobacco use would be prohibited at majorleague baseball venues in California under legislation passed Thursday by the Assembly. rpench@sacbee.com

Major-league baseball players would need to spit out their chewing tobacco before playing in California under an Assembly bill that narrowly passed Thursday.

Assembly Bill 768 would ban smokeless tobacco from the state’s five major-league parks. Public health advocates and the bill’s author said the bill would discourage kids from taking up the habit.

“We recognize that young people are impacted by what the players on the field do,” said Assemblyman Tony Thurmond, D-Richmond, and this bill seeks to ensure that young people do not see their heroes using smokeless tobacco.”

While Thurmond logged a win in getting the bill off the Assembly floor, he had accepted amendments that narrowed the legislation’s scope by exempting e-cigarettes and by allowing tobacco use at nonprofessional venues like municipal parks where recreational leagues play.

“The author has worked diligently to focus the attention on protecting our children,” said Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced, who heads the committee overseeing tobacco products.

Changes to the bill discouraged advocates. The American Cancer Society’s California branch, an early and enthusiastic supporter, dropped its support.

The final vote was 42-25, with mostly Republicans voting no and many Democrats holding off.

Jeremy B. White: (916) 326-5543, @CapitolAlert

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